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Lisa Jackson talks the environment, sustainability, and its impact on Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple VP Lisa Jackson spoke with The Independent.
  • The interview covered Apple's environmental efforts.
  • Jackson knows there is more work to be done.

Apple VP of Environment Lisa Jackson has spoken with The Independent about Apple's enironmental and sustainability initiatives.

The interview discusses the fact that Apple is able to recycle parts that are used in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Taptic Engine. Rare eath materials are used, and now they're recycled so as to reduce the impact on the environment. It may seem like a small thing – and physically, it is – but it's an example of what Apple is trying to do.

This time around, in the new iPhone, the story Jackson says she is is most proud of is the materials inside the Taptic Engine, the little vibrating component that lets the phone give you a tiny nudge. To do so, it relies on magnets made of rare earth materials – and now those materials will be recycled, helping boost the environmental credentials of the new phone.That same story is a reminder that there is plenty of work left to do, however. "It's about a quarter of all the rare earths you find in a typical iPhone, so it's not all done."

The focus on making sure Apple plays a part in helping the enviornment also means the company had to change how it functions. Now, a virtual team is responsible for making sure enviornmental impact and initiatives are considered when working on new products. It's a "virtual team" made up of people across Apple, all working in their own areas of the company.

"We kept everyone where they were, and started to build a virtual team of people around the company who, in addition to everything else they do, would have a sensitivity and understanding of our goals around climate change and materials. Over time, that group has gotten bigger and further up the chain – we regularly now have discussions with designers very early in the process."

But importantly, Jackson acknowledges that Apple isn't done. Despite all the work the company is doing, it needs to continue and Jackson is of the belief that will be the case "forever". But not at the expense of the product.

"To me, we are always going to try and go with the innovations, but we never want to hold back Apple innovations. We sort of, by definition, lag behind the innovations. If Apple is working on some brand new material, we're going to have to figure out how to recycle that," she says. "But we also work very closely to say: as you're speccing a material, is there a way to spec recycled material?"

The full piece over at The Independent is well worth a readl. It's a long one, but there are some great insights into how Apple works and how its people think.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.