Aluminum is Forever

Aluminum is 100% recyclable and is the bedrock upon which most recycling networks are built upon. The Aluminum Association has a bunch of highlights on their site including the fun fact that over 70% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today:
https://www.aluminum.org/industries/production/recycling

Why is an electronics company so interested in number 13 on the periodic chart? We use more aluminum than any other metal. If you have visited our offices in San Francisco or Shenzhen you will see our custom designed and manufactured desks are made of aluminum. We started with steel but they took four beefy humans to move them so we cut the weight in half by switching to sheet aluminum and now 2 people can move these desks without difficulty. The desks are more than 7 years old now and look like new.

blue clover desk

Furthermore our flagship product, the Production Line Tool (PLT) will be composed of aluminum later this year instead of steel in order to reduce weight in shipping. We are committing to using at least some recycled aluminum to help make the supply chain more circular instead of a long climate-wreaking journey from a mine to a landfill. Aluminum plays a role because it is so supremely recyclable. I have heard many places that the energy to recycle aluminum is much less than the energy to produce new metal from ore. Recycling saves over 90% of the energy according to the Aluminum Association.

We aren't alone in our admiration for aluminum and it's supply chain potential. Apple has been working on this for at least a decade and now has a 100% recycled aluminum in many key parts of their supply chain:

https://www.apple.com/environment/
https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/04/apple-expands-global-recycling-programs/

We have a bit different relationship with our suppliers than Apple, so we may have to take a different approach. To start with, we are simply asking the question: "Can we request our PLT enclosures to be made of recycled aluminum?" That's about where we are so far, but come back later because we have made use of recycled aluminum one of our public initiatives for achieving Climate Neutral certification in 2021.

NOTES: 

A good article from The Verge on the nuances of aluminum recycling in the US:

https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/12/20862775/aluminum-recycling-water-tech-plastic-manufacturing-cocacola-pepsi-apple

 


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