Apple Taps Recycled Rare Earth Elements for iPhone Parts

Apple Taps Recycled Rare Earth Elements for iPhone Parts

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Apple said it will use recycled rare earths in its Taptic Engine
  • Rare earths have become a flashpoint in tensions between US and China
  • China dominates the processing of the raw minerals

Apple’s new iPhones will use recycled rare earth elements in a key component, the company said on Wednesday.

Apple┬ásaid it will use recycled rare earths in its “Taptic Engine,” a part that lets iPhones mimic a physical button click despite being a flat pane of glass. The part is about one-quarter of the rare earth elements inside the iPhone models.

Rare earths, a group of 17 specialised minerals, have become a flashpoint in trade tensions between the United States and China. The elements are used in weapons, consumer electronics and other goods.

China dominates the processing of the raw minerals, and has implied through its state-controlled media that it could restrict rare earths sales to the United States, just as it did to Japan after a diplomatic dispute in 2010.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said Apple’s use of recycled rare earths was “not related” to trade tensions but could help it maintain a steady supply