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Apple Finds the Environmental Benefit in Aluminum

Apple’s use of aluminum cases has made a significant contribution to the company’s environmental efforts, helping it to far surpass its recycling goals, the Apple Insider reports.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs highlighted the adoption of recyclable aircraft-grade aluminum as a key sustainability strategy back in 2007, the Insider said. At that time Jobs said that the company would raise its recycling effectiveness – measured as the weight recycled in a given year, divided by the weight sold seven years earlier – from 9.5 percent in 2006 to 28 percent in 2010.

Apple achieved a 66.4 percent recycling rate in 2009. It then set a goal of 70 percent for 2010-2015, the Insider said.

Earlier this month, Alcoa said it is projecting a big increase in the aluminum content of electronics – one reason that the metals giant is taking a $10 million, ten percent stake in e-waste collector Electronic Recyclers International (ERI).

“We see that consumer electronics are aluminizing,” Alcoa chief sustainability officer Kevin Anton said. “You look at the Apple product line, for example, and across the board more and more aluminum is working its way into consumer electronics.”

Apple introduced its aluminum PowerBook G4 in 2003, and followed this with aluminum unibody enclosures for the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, Apple Insider said. Aluminum is used in versions of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, and Apple recently said that the aluminum casing of the new iPad 2 is “highly desired by recyclers”.

This apparent trend has led to speculation that the next generation of iPhones will feature an aluminum back, in a return to original form, the Insider said.

Opinion: Recycling aluminum is a simple and important part of the solution to our energy crisis and a perfect example of how powerful recycling can be, ERI chairman and CEO John Shegerian says.

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