Apple’s recycling robots are hungry for more defunct devices, as tech giant announces a “major expansion” of its recycling programmes.
The company says it is quadrupling the number of locations US customers can send their iPhone to be disassembled by Daisy, its recycling robot.
Daisy will disassemble and recycle select used iPhones returned to Best Buy stores throughout the US and KPN retailers in the Netherlands.
Customers can also turn in their eligible devices to be recycled at any Apple Store or through apple.com as part of the Apple Trade In programme.
Apple has received nearly 1 million devices through Apple programmes and each Daisy can disassemble 1.2 million devices per year.
In 2018, the company refurbished more than 7.8 million Apple devices and helped divert more than 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste from landfills.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, says: “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.
“We work hard to design products that our customers can rely on for a long time. When it comes time to recycle them, we hope that the convenience and benefit of our programmes will encourage everyone to bring in their old devices.”
Daisy is now able to disassemble 15 different iPhone models at the rate of 200 per hour, recovering even more important materials for re-use. Once materials have been recovered from Daisy, they are recycled back into the manufacturing process.
For cobalt, which is a key battery material, Apple sends iPhone batteries recovered by Daisy upstream in its supply chain.
They are then combined with scrap from select manufacturing sites and, for the first time, cobalt recovered through this process is now being used to make brand-new Apple batteries — a true closed loop for this precious material.
Apple also uses 100 percent recycled tin in a key component of the main logic boards of 11 different products.
The company’s engineering of an aluminium alloy made from 100 percent recycled aluminium allows the new MacBook Air and Mac mini to have nearly half the carbon footprint of earlier models.
Starting this year, aluminium recovered through the Apple Trade In programme is being remelted into the enclosures for the MacBook Air.
To further its research on recycling, Apple today also announced the opening of its Material Recovery Lab dedicated to discovering future recycling processes.
The new 9,000-square-foot facility in Austin, Texas, will look for innovative solutions involving robotics and machine learning to improve on traditional methods like targeted disassembly, sorting and shredding.
The Lab will work with Apple engineering teams as well as academia to address and propose solutions to today’s industry recycling challenges.
Apple continues to expand its programmes to ensure devices are used for as long as possible. The number of Apple Stores and network of Authorized Service Providers has grown to over 5,000 worldwide.
Last fall, Apple rolled out a new method for optimising iPhone screen repairs that allows thousands more independent shops to offer the service.
Apple also launched a battery replacement and recycling programme for all of its products.
Today, Apple released its 2019 Environment report, which contains additional information on the company’s climate change solutions, including its recent announcement that 44 of its suppliers have committed to 100 percent renewable energy for their Apple production.
The report can be viewed at apple.com/environment.
The company will be celebrating Earth Day on April 22 with environmentally themed Today at Apple sessions at all Apple Stores, and will be featuring original stories and collections of apps and games on the App Store to help people honour the Earth and consider their role in the natural ecosystem.
Apple’s Earth Day Challenge also encourages Apple Watch wearers to complete any outdoor workout of 30 minutes or more to earn a special Earth Day Award and stickers for Messages.
Apple will also be supporting the efforts of environmentally-focused non-profits Conservation International, SEE Foundation and The Recycling Partnership – expanding on its conservation and resource efficiency work from last year.