Skip to main content
Read page text

Page Text

in the US during Barack Obama’s presidency: her promise carries a lot of weight.

Apple will achieve its targets in part by buying back its own products from its customers and handing them to a robot known as Daisy, which can tear down and sort up to 200 iPhones an hour into raw materials. The company claims that Apple Giveback and similar programmes have, since 1994, prevented more than 597 million pounds of equipment ending up in landfill. Apple Park, its HQ in Cupertino, California, has rooftop solar panels and runs on 100% renewable energy, as do its data centres.

The company has been quietly transformed under Cook. It now makes a series of claims about each of its products and their impact on the environment. This comes after it was heavily lobbied by Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned climate change ambassador, who was elected to the company board in 2003. Steve Jobs, co-founder and almost godlike hero at Apple, had reportedly rebuffed calls to heed environmental concerns. Yet, the question remains: can the company that has built more than 1.2 billion iPhones really become part of a circular economy and end its dependency on mining?

Brendan Montague is editor of the Ecologist, and co-author of Impact of Market Forces on Addictive Substances and Behaviours: The Web of Influence of Addictive Industries (OUP).

Daisy, Apple’s latest innovation in material recovery © 2019 Apple Inc.

Issue 313

Paper mill sludge is good for business The area around Lielahti, Finland used to be dominated by forest industry, which operated for over a century until 2008, writes Reijo Väliharju. In 2014 the city of Tampere purchased some of the land and waters to build the future city district of Hiedanranta. The lake of Näsijärvi was polluted by a mass of wood-derived waste, known as paper mill sludge or “zero fibre”. The sludge had first been dumped directly into the water and later submerged in a banked-up basin for several decades.

According to research, the lakebed contains 1.5 million cubic metres of paper mill sludge, covering an area of 35 hectares with sediment that, in places, is several metres thick. But Hiedanranta is now serving as a development platform for projects aiming to find use for the sludge that would be financially viable and clean up the water. The latest research on the ‘value chain’ of paper mill sludge has yielded preliminary results that are both technically and financially promising.

The proposed solutions utilise sludge for the production of chemicals and biogas or methane and as a soil conditioner or fuel after quick composting. The research will continue with, among other things, estimates on whether profitability can also be expected for the projects at an industrial scale. The challenge is both extremely demanding and very interesting, and its solutions will play a substantial role not only in Tampere but possibly also around the world. Reijo Väliharju is Development Director of the Hiedanranta Development Programme.

Photograph: City of Tampere / Lentokuva Vallas Oy

Resurgence & Ecologist


Skip to main content