Apple’s iPhone 8 will bring a bunch of novel new features to the iPhone family, which should further refine the iPhone experience. Apple has even bigger goals in mind for its upcoming products, but they only sound amazing on paper for the time being.

The company wants to stop mining the earth for the precious minerals it needs to use in its iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or any other piece of hardware it plans to make.

The news came from Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report, which outlines plans to use recycled materials including aluminum, copper, tin, tungsten, and others, to build these devices. The only problem with that line of thinking is that Apple has no idea how to make it happen… and the company is pretty straightforward about that fact.

“We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it,” Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson told Vice. “So we’re a little nervous, but we also think it’s really important, because as a sector we believe it’s where technology should be going.”

Just four years ago, Apple said it was going to power all of its facilities with the help of renewable energy, and it’s currently at 96%. However, using only recycled minerals in all of its products is something a lot more complicated, and something that can’t be fixed as easily, especially considering the volume of devices Apple sells each year. Apple ships more than 200 million iPhones alone every year, and the device contains plenty of metal.

So why is Apple announcing this goal right now? The company wants to encourage innovation among its suppliers, whose help is desperately needed. The iPhone maker already has a smart robot that can recycle iPhone minerals, but that’s hardly enough to do the trick. So it’ll need mining companies to bring over their expertise. “Who knows more about recovering metals than people who mine them?” Jackson, a former head of the EPA, also said. “So some of the same smart people who do that, if they think there is a market for their services on the other side might get involved.”

A video version of Vice’s interview with Apple follows below.

View Comments