Apple just set itself a huge challenge

Apple has pretty big plans for the future, and they'll change the way your iPhone is made. As it is now, Apple needs metals mined from our lovely planet to build its mobile devices – something that has a lot of repercussions, whether those are environmental or humanitarian. According to Apple's new environmental report, though, the company wants to change that.

In Apple's Environmental Responsibility Report for fiscal year 2016, vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives Lisa Jackson lays down a pretty lofty goal for her company: move entirely to recycled materials in the mobile devices it produces. This means that Apple could presumably stop mining the Earth for the materials it uses in iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, which would be a great move indeed.

"Traditional supply chains are linear," the report reads. "Materials are mined, manufactured as products, and often end up in landfills after use. Then the process starts over and more materials are extracted from the earth for new products. We believe our goal should be a closed-loop supply chain, where products are built using only renewable resources or recycled material."

There's just one problem with that plan at this point in time: Apple isn't quite sure how it's going to accomplish these goals yet. Speaking to VICE, Jackson was upfront about that.

"We're actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we've completely figured out how to do it," Jackson said. "So we're a little nervous, but we also think it's really important, because as a sector we believe it's where technology should be going."

Still, if any company has the resources and the cash in its coffers to explore such a big initiative, it's probably Apple. In a statement to SlashGear, Greenpeace said that while Apple's plan is "critical" to reducing the company's carbon footprint, there was still more it could do. "While transitioning to 100% recycled materials is critical to reducing the sector's footprint, it is also fundamental for Apple and other major IT companies to design products that last, are easy to repair, and recyclable at their end of life," said Greenpeace senior IT analyst Gary Cook.

It's a big initiative to be sure, and it's probably not something that Apple will be ready to accomplish for a few years. It'll be interesting to see what kind of measures Apple implements as it works toward this goal, so definitely stay tuned for more. In the meantime, head down to the comments section and let us know if you think