Apple Is Investigating Whether Or Not Tin Used In Its Products Is Hurting Indonesia

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Apple needs a lot of tin to make its assortment of gadgets, but tin can be a very environmentally unfriendly business. It can destroy tropical forests and coral reefs, and it can bankrupt the people who depend on tropical forests and coral reefs for their livelihood. No tropical forests? No trees. No coral reefs? No fish.

Much of the tin-mining in the world is done on Bangka Island in Indonesia. Unfortunately, only some of the tin mining done there is regulated, meaning they watch out for the environmental impact. Recently, there’s been a lot of concern that Apple might actually be buying up tin from unregulated mines, taking part in the environmental destruction of the locale. That’s why Apple’s launching an investigation on the matter.

Apple Most Aggressive In Adopting Progressive Environmental Policies In China

Things have gotten slightly worse for Apple's supply chain workers. Photo: Apple
Things have gotten slightly worse for Apple's supply chain workers. Photo: Apple

Apple has been praised by Chinese environmental activist Ma Jun for its “aggressive” adoption of progressive environmental policies in China. The Cupertino company, which initially refused to cooperate with the Beijing-based Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE), has gone further than any of its peers in the technology industry, Ma said.

Read About China’s “Apocalyptic, Toxic” Stranglehold On The iPhone’s Rare Earth Elements

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There are seventeen rare earth elements in the periodic table: fifteen lanthanides, plus scandium and yttrium. About nine of those elements go into every iPhone sold… and if China were suddenly to disappear from a map tomorrow, Apple would lose about 90% of those elements.

Those nine rare-earth elements are used in all sorts of things to make your iPhone, including providing the LCD display, help polish the glass, build the speakers, make the phone circuitry and even allow your iPhone to vibrate on silent mode. But they are also an environmental nightmare to actually claw out of the earth, which is why China — which doesn’t care much about such issues — has a stranglehold on them.

Apple’s Using A Lot Of Excess Cardboard To Ship Their Lightning-To-30-Pin Adapter

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That's a lot of cardboard.
That's a lot of cardboard.

The new Lightning-to-30-pin adapter is a tiny thing, just a little dongle that routes signals from your old iPhone dock or connector to the appropriate pins in the new Lightning adapter. It’s smaller than the size of a matchbook.

Despite this, however, reader Doug P. emailed us with an image of how much packaging the adapter comes in: not only is Apple’s retail packaging for the adapter six times bigger than the adapter itself, but the shipping box it comes in looks like could easily hold up to thirty adapters without their packaging.

Apple’s EarPods Packing Is So Environmentally Friendly It Turns To Mush In Water [Video]

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Once it's gone, it's gone.
Once it's gone, it's gone.

Apple’s efforts to be greener mean it boasts some of the most environmentally friendly gadgets on the planet. The new iPhone 5, for example, is one of the greenest smartphones money can buy. Apple also tries to make its packaging green. In fact, the packing for its new EarPods is so environmentally friendly that it turns to mush when you submerge it in water.