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Apple expands global recycling programs with iPhone disassembling robot

Apple expands global recycling programs with iPhone disassembling robot
Image courtesy of Apple.
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Image courtesy of Apple. Daisy, Apple’s recycling robot, will now disassemble used iPhones returned to Best Buy in the US and KPN in the Netherlands.

Eponymous Californian tech company Apple announced a “major expansion” of its recycling programs on 18 April, with plans to quadruple the number of locations some customers can send their old iPhone’s to be disassembled by its recycling robot, Daisy.

In a press release, the company said that Daily would disassemble and recycle select used iPhones that have been returned to Best Stores in the US and KPN retailers in the Netherlands. Eligible devices can also be turned into the Apple store or apple.com for recycling as part of the Apple Trade In program.

The company said it had received almost 1 million devices to be recycled through Apple programs and claimed that each Daisy robot can disassemble 1.2 million devices per year. Last year, Apple allegedly refurbished over 7.8 million devices and “helped divert more than 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste from landfills”.Daisy is now capable of disassembling fifteen different iPhone at the rate of two hundred per hour, Apple said, allowing the company to recover “even more important materials for re-use”, which are recycled back into the production process. For example, cobalt is a key battery material that is “for the first time” being recycled to make brand-new Apple batteries.

Apple also uses one hundred percent recycled tin in a key component of the main logic boards of eleven different products, the company claimed, and an alloy made from one hundred percent recycled aluminum “allows the new MacBook Air and Mac mini to have nearly half the carbon footprint of earlier models”.

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.

“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 vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, said in a statement. “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.”

Future recycling processes

Apple also announced the opening of its new Material Recovery Lab, which is “dedicated to discovering future recycling processes” and will “look for innovative solutions involving robotics and machine learning to improve on traditional methods” such as “targeted disassembly, sorting and shredding”.

The new 9,000-square-foot facility will be located Austin, Texas, and will working with Apple engineering teams as well as academics to “address and propose solutions to today’s industry recycling challenges”, including a continued effort to “ensure devices are used for as long as possible”.

This comes as Apple released its 2019 Environment report, which contains additional information on the company’s climate change solutions, including a recent announcement that 44 of its suppliers have committed to 100 percent renewable energy for their Apple production. The report can be viewed here.

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Naomi Smith
Naomi is a UK-based Journalist, writer and online content creator with around six years experience. She has a master's degree in investigative journalism and experience working as a beat reporter, primarily covering aviation law, regulation and politics. She has written for online publications on a variety of topics, including politics, gaming and film.