Apple to upscale sourcing of 'habitat-positive' gold

Apple has revealed that it sourced 1,000 ounces of gold from miners working to restore natural habitats this year, up from just 25 ounces last year.

For the gold to be verified, miners have to pledge to use low-impact techniques and restore the local habitat when they are finished at their sites. Image: Apple

For the gold to be verified, miners have to pledge to use low-impact techniques and restore the local habitat when they are finished at their sites. Image: Apple

The tech giant claims this puts it on track to begin upscaling its ‘Salmon Gold’ project for sustainable supply chains significantly in the coming years.

‘Salmon Gold’ was first launched by Apple in 2017, in response to concerns that mining operations in Alaska were degrading creeks and streams to the point that Pacific salmon had been listed under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Run in partnership with non-profit Resolve, the programme works to connect miners with environmental groups and government agencies, to help them learn about re-mining techniques which are also restorative to natural habitats. Salmon Gold also involves First Nations leaders in the affected areas, to ensure that all solutions are implemented with respect for local Native American communities.

This week, Apple published the results of Salmon Gold for the first time, revealing that the partnership mined 40 times as much certified gold this year than in 2018.

Apple will use some of this gold to manufacture electronic components but has partnered with jewellery giant Tiffany & Co. to ensure that all Salmon Gold is put to good use, and to help the project grow further. Indeed, the tech firm claims that several more mining companies are set to join the partnership next season, following in the footsteps of the original three.

A key step in the upscaling of Salmon Gold will be the introduction of blockchain to its supply chains, which, according to Apple’s head of supplier responsibility Paula Pyers, will be completed this fall. Blockchain works as an unbreakable digital ledger, creating a verifiable audit trail that can be used for any transaction – in this case, the movement of gold from the mine to the refiner.

“Partnering with Tiffany, a pioneer in sustainable sourcing, as well as Resolve, ensures Salmon Gold can be an example of how the industry can evolve,” Pyers said.

“We have a sacred responsibility to the stewardship of the environment that we call our ancestral land, so that future generations can experience it the way our ancestors did.”

Supply chain excellence

Apple is widely regarded as an industry leader in terms of supply chain sustainability, having topped the 2018 Green Supply Chain Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI).

The company is on track to exceed its 2020 ambition of delivering 4GW of renewable energy into its supply chain, with 44 key suppliers having joined its Supplier Clean Energy Programme since the initiative launched in 2015.

Resource efficiency is another key priority for Apple’s supply chain sustainability ambitions, given that the firm is working towards an ongoing goal of using 100% closed-loop materials in its products. Apple diverted more than 48,000 metric tonnes of electronic waste from landfill during 2018 – including the recycled tin it uses to make logic boards and the recycled aluminium used in its MacBook Air and Mac Mini models. To upscale these efforts, the company this year launched a dedicated research and development lab for material recovery in Texas.

Sarah George



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