Cradle to Cradle: MacBook Pro

By: Noah Freedman

How is it made?

Aluminium, plastic, and glass are the main materials used to make Macbook Pros. Aluminium is derived from the ore bauxite. First bauxite is mined from typically shallow deposits, and then it is refined into alumina (alumina hydroxide – Al2O3) using the Bayer process at an alumina refinery. The alumina, a powdery white substance, is then sent to an aluminium smelter where it subjected to electrolysis (Hall/Héroult process) which separates out the aluminium metal.

1. Petroleum is drilled and transported to a refinery.

2. Crude oil and natural gas are refined into ethane, propane, hundreds of other petrochemical products and, of course, fuel for your car.

3. Ethane and propane are "cracked" into ethylene and propylene, using high-temperature furnaces.

4. Catalyst is combined with ethylene or propylene in a reactor, resulting in "fluff," a powdered material (polymer) resembling laundry detergent.

5. Fluff is combined with additives in a continuous blender.

6. Polymer is fed to an extruder where it is melted.

7. Melted plastic is cooled then fed to a pelletizer that cuts the product into small pellets.

8. Pellets are shipped to customers.

9. Customers manufacture plastic products by using processes such as extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, etc.

Glass is made usually from sand and other glass debris, it is melted down and re-molded into whatever shape is needed.


How is it used?

The MacBook Pro is used as an everyday, high-performance laptop. Usually people will replace their laptops every 2-3 years although Apple usually releases an upgraded version every year.
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What happens when you don't need it anymore?

Most e-waste ends up in landfills. It is the fastest growing component of municipal waste. Plastic can take up to 450 years to decompose, aluminium up to 200 years, and glass 1,000,000 years! And with the technology used to make sure your product doesn't corrode or break during use, it may take even longer to decompose. Most e-waste is toxic but all Apple products comply with the strict European Directive on the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment, also known as the RoHS Directive. Examples of materials restricted by RoHS include lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and the brominated flame retardants (BFRs) PBB and PBDE. The 13-inch MacBook Pro goes even further than the requirements of the RoHS Directive by incorporating the following more aggressive restrictions: • Arsenic-free display glass • Mercury-free LED-backlit display • BFR-free • PVC-free internal cables and power adapter DC cable • PVC-free AC power cord available in all regions except India and South Korea
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How can we repurpose it?

Apple offers and participates in various product take-back and recycling programs in 95 percent of the regions where Apple products are sold. We can make programs these more known so that people don't just throw out their old technology. If consumers were to turn in their old product to maybe help build their new laptop or whatever then we could save a lot of production and transportation costs.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If we keep going on this linear production track we will soon run out of our natural resources. We have to start reducing our intake, reusing the products we already have, and recycling any material that can be recycled. If we don't try and slow down our consumption, animal habitats will soon disappear and then as time goes on we will ruin our own habitats. We can already see the effects in China where the people walk around with face masks, and traces of lead have been found in the childrens blood. If we don't take serious action this could be happening all around the world.
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