Recovered Cobalt in Rechargeable Batteries
A Game-Changer for Sustainability or a Compromise on Performance?
Apple and Recycled Cobalt
Apple Inc. announced in April 2023 its commitment to protecting the environment by using 100% recycled cobalt in all its battery designs within the next two years. Tim Cook, the CEO, emphasized the company's focus on innovation that enhances people's lives while also taking care of the planet. Apple's eco-friendly approach is demonstrated through its use of recycled materials in products and clean energy to power operations. Cook reiterated Apple's dedication to developing technology that benefits users and the environment.
Cobalt’s Role in Technology
Cobalt plays a vital role in modern life, particularly in batteries, fuel cells, motors, robotics, drones, 3D printing, and digital technologies. In the United States, cobalt is used in various applications, including the production of superalloys, cemented carbides, and other metallic and chemical applications. Globally, 57% of cobalt consumption is for battery production; the most critical technology is the production of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). These batteries are widely found in consumer electronics such as smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles. Since 2008, cobalt has been identified as a critical material due to the potential risk of supply interruption—because production is concentrated in a few countries with political and economic instability—and environmental impact. The criticality of cobalt continues to increase, with the latest report in 2021 ranking it as the tenth most critical material among 83 raw materials.
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