Rare earth refer to 17 special elements that are vital to the manufacture of weapons, electronics, and more. As it happens, China has large deposits of rare earth minerals, and implied it could restrict their export to the U.S. as part of the current trade war.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said Apple’s initiative to recycle rare earths wasn’t related to the trade war, but as a way to make its supply chain more resilient.
This is one of those happy coincidences where what is good for the planet is really good for business at the same time. One of the things we talk about a lot internally, just in general, is how much more resilient this makes our supply chain.
The Taptic Engine provides haptic (touch) feedback to the iPhone, Apple Watch, and certain MacBooks by way of vibrations. The Engine is responsible for about 25% of rare earth usage in iPhones. This is a new addition to Apple’s recycling efforts, after it announced at the iPhone 11 keynote that it now uses 100% recycled aluminum in the iPad 7th gen and iPhone 11 models.