July 22 update below, post originally published July 21.
Today’s news from Apple confirms that it is working with aluminium suppliers on carbon-free processing. As an intermediate step, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will be the first hardware to use a low-carbon aluminium and forge a new and more environmentally friendly laptop.
July 22 update: Aluminium International Today’s Nadine Bloxsome not only talks about the new process, but also notes the investment that Apple is making into the process alongside a number of commercial partners and government departments:
“As part of Apple’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our products through innovation, Alcoa helped accelerate the development of this technology. And Apple has partnered with both aluminium companies, and the governments of Canada and Quebec, to collectively invest a combined $144 million in future research and development.”
Apple is bringing its size to bear on this issue, with BBC News noting that suppliers must commit to being 100 percent renewable on their Apple production lines within ten years.
The move comes as part of Apple’s goal to becoming 100 percent carbon neutral across the entire company. From the press release:
“Apple today unveiled its plan to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. The company is already carbon neutral today for its global corporate operations, and this new commitment means that by 2030, every Apple device sold will have net zero climate impact.”
As part of takling emissions during the production process, Apple is working with its suppliers on a carbon-free smelting process, and the first beneficiary of this technology will be the 16-inch MacBook Pro:
“Apple is supporting the development of the first-ever direct carbon-free aluminium smelting process through investments and collaboration with two of its aluminum suppliers. Today the company is announcing that the first batch of this low carbon aluminum is currently being used in production intended for use with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.”
For the moment, this MacBook Pro will be unique, but it will be joined in time by the rest of the MacBook range, then the Mac family, before the new aluminium will be found in every Apple product. It’s not an immediate switch over and it may not have a public cut-of date of ‘before and after’, so there’s no way or a consumer to specify that it wants the newer materials. Instead they need to be content with the knowledge of Apple’s march forward.
What they can choose is whether to pick up the 16-inch MacBook Pro now, or later. The current 16-inch MacBook Pro is the last new MacBook to not offer one of Intel’s tenth-generation CPUs – both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro were refreshed to Intel’s current tech in the first half of this year. An update to the 16-inch machine from its current ninth-generation chipset is surely on the horizon.
Perhaps Tim Cook is holding back on that powerful update to showcase at the same time as the first ARM-powered MacBook Pro goes on sale to consumers during Q4 2020. What better way to reassure the geekerati that Apple, although it is pushing forward with the transition to ARM, will not be leaving behind the massive Intel user base.