Apple's Recycling Initiatives Recover $40 Million in Gold

Apple released its latest annual environmental report yesterday, and some of the numbers included reveal just how much the company is able to recover from old devices.

Business Insider notes that Apple was able to recover over 61 million pounds of steel, aluminum, glass, and other materials from its computers and iPhones. Included in that total is 2,204 pounds of gold, which is well over a ton.

environmental report
The gold haul alone is worth $40 million at current prices ($1,229.80 per troy ounce of gold), while the total amount of material recovered is reportedly worth well over $50 million.

Cult of Mac ran the figures quoted by Apple through today's metal prices, and came up with individual figures for copper ($6.4 million), aluminum ($3.2 million), silver ($1.6 million), nickel ($160,426), zinc ($109,503), and lead ($33,999).

Apple-iphone-recycling-numbers
Apple says in total it collected almost 90 million pounds of ewaste through its recycling programs, which works out as 71 percent of the total weight of the products the company sold seven years earlier.

Apple made much of its efforts to reduce waste at its media event last month. The company also unveiled a robotic system it has developed called 'Liam' that can disassemble old iPhones and recover recyclable materials.

The company said that Liam will initially focus on recycling junked iPhone 6 handsets, but Apple plans to modify and expand the system to deconstruct different models and recover more resources.

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50 months ago

This sales campaign feels a bit suspect given Apple's reliance on unsustainable production practices.

So... I feel like Apple is doing a lot more than most other companies to have full end-to-end recycling for their products. Why knock Apple for this? Or is it that they're not making the new iPhones entirely out of 100% sustainable bamboo? Which other major electronics manufacturer is doing better?
Rating: 15 Votes
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50 months ago
People recycling their edition watches already?
Rating: 13 Votes
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50 months ago
So generous that they do this for us completely free of charge.
Rating: 11 Votes
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50 months ago
I guess that's how they make all the Apple Watch Edition models!!
Rating: 8 Votes
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50 months ago
Wow. A company spends massive amounts of intellectual energy and hundreds of millions of dollars recovering materials and helping to better the current state of sustainability and some people just want to criticize. It makes me tired.
Rating: 8 Votes
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50 months ago

So generous that they do this for us completely free of charge.


Most of these devices are buy backs as part of the upgrade programs. Also don't forget it costs apple to recycle too, so its not all profit.
Rating: 5 Votes
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50 months ago

How does buying used mitigate your footprint? Does it matter if you buy used or new?
If you didn't have a computer yesterday but today you do, you gained something. Please explain how your footprint is mitigated.

You're right, it doesn't necessarily matter (although it can).

The common assumption here is that someone who buys used products is rescuing them from landfill. That's not always the case.

What does matter is whether the product is used beyond its expected life, or if it's prematurely trashed. It doesn't much matter whether one person owns it for five years, or five people own it for one year each.

I think what matters is having a culture of conservation. The Disposable Economy is clearly wasteful. A person who cares about his/her impact on the environment will, hopefully, behave in a less wasteful manner than he/she may otherwise have done. Less waste/consumption in total, not just saving here so that it can be spent over there.
Rating: 3 Votes
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50 months ago

How does buying used mitigate your footprint? Does it matter if you buy used or new?
If you didn't have a computer yesterday but today you do, you gained something. Please explain how your footprint is mitigated.

Companies do a lot of research to determine the demand of their products. I would highly doubt Tim Cook is sitting there saying, "we sold 1 million MBPs last year, we should produce 2 million this year.


I only buy used clothing (except socks and underwear).

I'm trying to use things that last, and trying to make them last as long as I can.

I used to buy new products, then I stopped buying new things and keeping the things I had instead of replacing them.

Obviously companies do a lot of research to determine the demand of their products, but my simple point is still worthy.

If no one bought a new Apple product from this point on, eventually they would stop making them.

If we mend and repair and buy used and make things ourselves than companies will stop making them. There are probably enough toasters manufactured in the world that we could stop making them, yet there are hundreds for sale near wherever you are.

WE decide what we need, no one else. We are free to say "this cellphone I've been using from 2009 still works so I'll use it until it breaks".
Rating: 3 Votes
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50 months ago

Apart from Apple Watches, what products have gold in them?


PCBs, and probably microchips?
Rating: 3 Votes
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50 months ago

So... I feel like Apple is doing a lot more than most other companies to have full end-to-end recycling for their products. Why knock Apple for this? Or is it that they're not making the new iPhones entirely out of 100% sustainable bamboo? Which other major electronics manufacturer is doing better?


It's not that, but the lack of reflexivity on Apple's part. Sure, they're a tech company and perhaps are doing more than others in regards to recycling, etc. However, you would have thought they'd expect a bit of criticism for claiming that purchasing an app is going to save the world, particularly when they can't claim to be a sustainable company. It's about acknowledgement, just like I have to realise that in buying my next iPhone, I'm not exactly doing wonders for the environment (yet, I'll still buy it). =P
Rating: 2 Votes
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