Apple has announced a major expansion of its recycling programmes, 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. “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. “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 has 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.