Apple Opens Up About Recycling iPhones Via Robot

Apple has opened up about its effort to become even more environmentally friendly, by offering an insight into its normally secretive factories.

The iPad maker this week announced a “major expansion of its recycling programs” and showed to the world its iPhone eating robot called Daisy located at its Material Recovery Lab in Austin, Texas.

Daisy the recycling robot allows for the disassembly and recycling of used iPhones in both the United States and the Netherlands.

Recycling old tech

The idea is that Apple customers can return their unwanted or old iPhones to Best Buy stores throughout the US and KPN retailers in the Netherlands.

Eligible devices can also be returned to be recycled at any Apple Store or through apple.com as part of the Apple Trade In program.

It comes after Apple announced in 2017 that its goal “one day” would be to make its devices using 100 percent recycled materials, rather than mining for metals and toxic rare materials such as tungsten and cobalt.

Apple said that it has received nearly 1 million devices through Apple programs and each Daisy can disassemble 1.2 million devices per year, or 200 iPhones per hour to recycle material such as cobalt, aluminium and tin.

Last year in 2018 Apple refurbished more than 7.8 million Apple devices and helped divert more than 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste from landfills.

“Advanced recycling must become an important part of the electronics supply chain, and Apple is pioneering a new path to help push our industry forward,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives.

“We work hard to design products that our customers can rely on for a long time,” she added. “When it comes time to recycle them, we hope that the convenience and benefit of our programs will encourage everyone to bring in their old devices.”

Some may feel that Apple could better help in this regard if it were to offer improved trading-in value for old Apple kit.

Green Daisy

But the firm is making an effort thanks to its Daisy robot, which can now able to disassemble 15 different iPhone models. This allows Apple to recover important materials for re-use.

Cobalt for example is a key material for batteries. Apple has now said that for the first time recovered Cobalt is used to make brand-new Apple batteries.

Apple also uses 100 percent recycled tin in a key component of the main logic boards of 11 different products.

And the new MacBook Air and Mac mini also make use of an aluminum alloy made from 100 percent recycled aluminum.

Apple efforts to be more green is being noticed.

The firm was among a group of tech companies praised by environmental campaigner Greenpeace in 2017 for its green IT efforts, receiving an ‘A’ grade along with Google and Facebook.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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