Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Apple to avoid the cobalt blues

           Before it was vital for the production of batteries, cobalt was primarily used to produce a                                         vibrant color known as “cobalt blue,” such as in this glass pitcher set.

     “Do they recycle cobalt?”
     Leave it to my wife to cut through the clutter.
     “Umm ...” I replied.
     Dozens of reader emails last week focused on the me-me-me flea circus drama of my column about backing out of a humanitarian trip to Congo. (For the record, my wife supported both when I was going — “You’re helping people,” she said, plainly and with a touch of wonder — and when I wasn’t. “Smart,” she concluded).
     Her follow-up reaction, in trademark fashion, zeroed in on the moral issue — children mining cobalt by hand in the Democratic Republic of Congo, source of 70% of the world’s supply of an element essential in the production of rechargeable lithium batteries.
     A few readers airily wished something could be done (the “but of course it can’t!” breathed in a Scarlett O’Hara sigh while collapsing on a mental chaise lounge of resignation was implied), while my wife identified the solution: Recycle the cobalt. She then posed the relevant question: Can it be done?
     I consulted Prof. Google. Why yes, it can.
     Turns out not only can the cobalt in lithium batteries be recycled, but a certain Apple Inc., a few days earlier, had pounded its corporate fist on its global desk and announced that, by God, it would do just that, in an April 13 press release titled: “Apple will use 100 percent recycled cobalt in batteries by 2025.”

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  1. Fascinating Neil, thank you. Everything has a downside and a cost. If people learned smart phones caused some deadly brain disorder, bet nobody would care and continue using them until something comes along to replace them.

    1. I guess you've forgotten all the hubbub about the fact the phones radiate radio signals which have been linked, but not proven to cause brain cancers in the past. And that people have been told not to keep some phone models too close to their heads all the time.

    2. The phones-cause-brain-cancer bit reminds me of the flouride-is-poison fixation. Were that the case, given the billions of users, wouldn't we have clear evidence?

    3. No, Clark St, we haven't forgotten that nonesense. Just relegated it to the bin marked "BULLSHIT WE DON'T PAY ATTENTION TO".

  2. And what does the Gov't of that nation do for it's people?


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