Monday, July 06, 2020

Apple expands recycling effort under watch of Daisy the robot

Apr 20. 2019
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By The Nation weekend

Apple has announced the expansion of its global recycling programme, which will quadruple the number of locations to which US customers can send their iPhones 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 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, said that advanced recycling must become an integral part of the electronics supply chain. 

“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 the time comes to recycle them, we hope that the convenience of our programmes will encourage everyone to bring in their old devices,” she explained.

Daisy is now able to disassemble 15 different iPhone models at the rate of 200 per hour, recovering ever-more important materials for re-use. Once materials have been recovered from Daisy, they are recycled back into the manufacturing process. For cobalt, a key battery material, Apple sends iPhone batteries recovered by Daisy upstream in its supply chain. They are then combined with scrap from selected manufacturing sites and, for the first time, cobalt recovered through this process is now being used to make brand-new Apple batteries — a closed loop for this precious material. 

Apple also uses 100-per-cent 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-per-cent 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 into recycling, Apple has also announced the opening of its Material Recovery Lab dedicated to discovering future recycling processes. The new 836-square-metre 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 authorised service providers has grown to more than 5,000 worldwide. Last autumn, Apple rolled out a new method for optimising iPhone screen repairs that allows thousands more independent shops to offer the service. Apple has also launched a battery replacement and recycling programme for all of its products.

Now Apple has 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-per-cent renewable energy for their Apple production.

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