ELYSIS, the joint venture between Alcoa and Rio Tinto, is strengthening its ties with Apple. The company has produced the first commercial-purity primary aluminum at industrial scale, which will be used in Apple products. The breakthrough technology produces oxygen instead of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and the achievement marks a major milestone in the production of aluminum, one of the world’s most widely used metals. Apple will purchase this first batch of commercial-purity, low-carbon aluminum from ELYSIS for intended use in the iPhone SE. This aluminum was produced by ELYSIS at its Industrial Research and Development Centre in Quebec using hydropower.
“This is the first time aluminum has been produced at this commercial purity, without any greenhouse gas emission and at industrial scale. The sale to Apple confirms the market’s interest in aluminum produced using our breakthrough ELYSIS carbon-free smelting technology. Today’s announcement proves that ELYSIS was able to turn an idea into reality,” said Vincent Christ, ELYSIS’s CEO. “We are excited to be working alongside Apple on this advancement, which has the potential to make lasting changes in how aluminum is produced.”
Apple was an early investor in the ELYSIS project. Investments from Apple’s $4.7 billion in Green Bonds have helped jump-start the development of new low-carbon manufacturing and recycling technologies. Apple has issued three Green Bonds since 2016, with projects showcasing how the investments can reduce global emissions and bring clean power to communities around the world. As part of this work, Apple is purchasing direct carbon-free aluminum from ELYSIS to reduce emissions. The company intends for this aluminum to be introduced in the iPhone SE.
“Apple is committed to leaving the planet better than we found it, and our Green Bonds are a key tool to drive our environmental efforts forward,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. “Our investments are advancing the breakthrough technologies needed to reduce the carbon footprint of the materials we use, even as we move to using only recyclable and renewable materials across our products to conserve the earth’s finite resources.”
The cooperation with ELYSIS and the use of industrial-scale, carbon free aluminum is an important milestone, building on the significant progress Apple has made in reducing the carbon impact of aluminum and other metals found in its products. By switching to recycled aluminum and aluminum smelted using hydroelectricity instead of fossil fuels, the company’s carbon emissions associated with aluminum have decreased by nearly 70% since 2015. Every model in the iPad lineup, including the new iPad Air, along with the latest MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and Apple Watch, are made with a 100% recycled aluminum enclosure.
Apple Continues to Use Aluminum
This month, Apple introduced Mac Studio and Studio Display, an entirely new Mac desktop and display designed to give users everything they need to “build the studio of their dreams.” Mac Studio is powered by M1 Max and the new M1 Ultra, the world’s most powerful chip for a personal computer. With great power comes great responsibility and Apple is set to prove that they are responsible, designing the new desktop studio and display to minimize environmental impact. Akin to many of Apple’s other products, aluminum is prominently featured and used throughout the design of the new set-up, helping to meet the company’s net-zero carbon goals.
Both Mac Studio and Studio Display use 100% recycled rare earth elements in all of its magnets and recycled tin in the solder of the main logic board — as well as recycled aluminum in various components.
Built from a single aluminum extrusion with a square footprint of just 7.7 inches and a height of only 3.7 inches, Mac Studio takes up very little space and fits perfectly under most displays. Mac Studio also features an innovative thermal design that enables an extraordinary amount of performance. The unique system of double-sided blowers, precisely placed airflow channels, and over 4,000 perforations on the back and bottom of the enclosure guide air through the internal components and help cool the high-performance chips.
The Studio Display features a state-of-the-art screen design situated in a refined, all-aluminum enclosure that houses an advanced set of features in a slim profile. Its built-in stand allows the user to tilt the display up to 30 degrees. To meet the needs of a variety of workspaces, Studio Display also offers a tilt- and height-adjustable stand option with a counterbalancing arm that makes the display feel weightless as it is adjusted.
Beyond the use of recyclable materials, the Mac Studio and Studio Display were designed to minimize their environmental impact. Mac Studio uses far less energy than competitors to deliver its extraordinary performance. For example, over the course of a year, Mac Studio will use up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours less energy than a high-end PC desktop. Both products also meet Apple’s high standards for energy efficiency, are free of numerous harmful substances, and use wood fiber in the packaging that comes from recycled sources or responsibly managed forests.
Currently, Apple is said to be carbon neutral for global corporate operations, and by 2030, the company plans to have net-zero climate impact across the entire business, which includes manufacturing supply chains and all product life cycles. This means that every Apple device sold, from component manufacturing, assembly, transport, customer use, charging, all the way through recycling and material recovery, will be 100 percent carbon neutral.