The key component of the new iPhone smartphones – the Taptic Engine module – will use recycled rare earths, Apple said Wednesday. The production of this part accounts for about a quarter of the volume of rare earth metals used in the components of iPhone smartphones.
China dominates the global rare-earth metals market, which, through state-controlled media, is hinting that, due to the escalation of the trade war, it could limit the supply of this raw material to the United States, just as it did with Japan after a diplomatic dispute in 2010.
Rare earth elements, which include 17 related lanthanide metals, are used in the manufacture of weapons, consumer electronics and other products.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, said Apple’s intention to use recycled rare earths was not “tied to” trade tensions, but could help the company ensure a stable supply.