Apple Opens Material Recovery Lab in Austin to Improve Recycling Efforts

Apple has opened a new lab that will study how it can expand upon its current recycling processes through machine learning and robotics. The company announced the news today, along with other environmentally-focused updates, including that it will quadruple the number of locations where United States customers can send their iPhone to be disassembled by its recycling robot Daisy in a major expansion of its recycling programs.


In regards to its new lab, Apple is calling it the "Material Recovery Lab" and says that it will be dedicated to looking for innovative solutions that will improve on traditional methods of recycling. The lab will work with Apple engineering teams and members of academia to address and propose solutions to current recycling challenges. The 9,000 square foot lab is located in Austin, Texas.

The recycling expansion also includes select iPhones returned to Best Buy stores throughout the United States and KPN retailers in the Netherlands. With the Apple Trade In program, those interested can also turn in their eligible devices to be recycled at any Apple Store or on Apple.com.

Apple says that Daisy can now disassemble 15 different ‌iPhone‌ models at the rate of 200 per hour, and after materials are recovered from the robot they are recycled back into the manufacturing process. Apple has received nearly 1 million devices through its recycling programs and each Daisy robot can disassemble 1.2 million devices each 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 programs will encourage everyone to bring in their old devices.”
Lastly, the company has released its 2019 Environment report with more information on its climate change solutions. These include Apple's recent announcement that 44 of its suppliers -- like Foxconn and Wistron -- have committed to 100 percent renewable energy for their production of Apple products.


To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, Apple will have environmentally themed Today at Apple sessions at all Apple Stores, feature original stories and app collections on the App Store, and run an Earth Day Apple Watch challenge. The company will also support the efforts of non-profit organizations like Conservation International, SEE Foundation, and The Recycling Partnership, which are all focused on protecting and preserving the environment.

The front page of Apple.com has been updated as well, prompting visitors to learn more about Apple and its environmental efforts.

Top Rated Comments

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9 months ago
How about making more repairable products, eh?

Offer parts to 3rd party repair centres so they can fix stuff Apple or AASP refuse to fix.
Rating: 26 Votes
9 months ago
The best way to improve recycling efforts is to avoid the need for recycling in the first place, ie manufacture devices with easily replaceable parts, including batteries and screens.
Rating: 16 Votes
9 months ago

How about making more repairable products, eh?

Offer parts to 3rd party repair centres so they can fix stuff Apple or AASP refuse to fix.


Look at the MacBook Pro. Even for the simplest repair, Apple requires replacing half the computer.
Rating: 12 Votes
9 months ago

Does Apple use post-consumer aluminum for iDevices and Macs? They should! Promoting "recyclable" is good but companies need to use that material for products, not using virgin materials. Apple can clearly lead the way on this. We should all be able to say "this iPhone is made from 100% recyclED aluminum and the quality is exactly the same as new-AL iPhones".

They do this with the new MacBook Air, and the Mac mini. 100% recycled aluminum.
Rating: 10 Votes
9 months ago
If Apple care so much about environment, they should stop making disposable non-upgradable appliances (especially computers).

Start by creating less trash. Any minor repair in a Macbook requires to replace the entire computer.


Apple.
Yesterday's technology
At tomorrow's prices
Rating: 9 Votes
9 months ago

Really? And do those individual parts not need to be recycled themselves? Can they just be thrown away instead because they are "smaller"? Whatever the "thing" is, a complete top half of a laptop, or just the screen itself, it needs to be recycled or thrown away. Improving of the recycling process itself, so that more things can be recycled more efficiently, is needed for either scenario to improve.

Sure, making parts replaceable will help, but I do not believe its the best way. Better recycling helps overall. Should they do both? Sure, I think that would be good, but its a whole process, and needs to be seen as a whole process to have a larger impact.


What Apple is doing is a marketing stunt.
Although recycling efforts are great, the way they are currently designing computers creates more trash. And the first step to reduce recycling is starting at the source, creating computers that can be easily repaired/upgraded.
Rating: 9 Votes
9 months ago

How about making more repairable products, eh?

Offer parts to 3rd party repair centres so they can fix stuff Apple or AASP refuse to fix.



Ironically, one of the negative side effects of home and non-authorized repair places is that there is no mandatory recycling and much of their old parts end up in the waste stream. Regardless of your position on repairability of complex tech products, it's acknowledged that it's much better for the environment for Apple and its authorized repair centers to do the repairs as John Doe at home isn't taking the time to recycle that old battery, screen, etc.
Rating: 6 Votes
9 months ago
Standardized , user replacable batteries and standardized ports (cables, chargers) , a policy geared towards maintaining instead of replacing devices, and Apple could almost be taken seriously .

The renewable energy part is a joke, obviously .
Rating: 6 Votes
9 months ago

If by easily serviceable you mean John or Jane Doe at home should be able to easily do it, it is not ever going to happen as its not feasible, nor would 99.99999% of consumers want to deal with the higher costs and the design and other trade offs in order to satisfy the .000001% of people who want to be able to take apart and repair a complex piece of technology. The fact is that most all Apple products last an impressive time frame.


We do not want to repair our own computers. By Easily repair means that you do not need to change the entire Logic board if the SSD or RAM goes bad. By easily repair means that Apple should design the computers so they are easier to fix. Not that if a small component is broken you need to replace almost the entire computer.

Currently Apple is designing disposable appliances rather than computers.
And you can see how little Apple cares about customers. Rather than fixed a Failed keyboard design in the 2016 MAcbook line up, they decided to do a cheap fix, that still is having lot of problems and does not work reliably.

Repeated engineering failures
[MEDIA=youtube]AUaJ8pDlxi8[/MEDIA]

Apple.
Yesterday's technology
At tomorrow's prices
Rating: 5 Votes
9 months ago

Look at the MacBook Pro. Even for the simplest repair, Apple requires replacing half the computer.


Plutonius, although accurate, these are fighting words in this forum.

As a case in point, I took the challenge to replace the scissor-generation keyboard from my wife's, otherwise-perfect, MBP retina, mid-2014.

[Why did I need a new keyboard?
The old keyboard had melted the white fonts from five keys due to extreme heat emanating off the left-side fan (the most critical fan among the two). All due to poor flow management within the cramped (and thin) MBP case.
And, I just was unwilling to let go of this MBP to secede to a new-gen, MBP butterfly keyboard.]

It was a challenge:
[LIST=1]
* used iFixIt steps throughout.
* got German-quality screw drivers, new non-OEM keyboard with 100 small T4 screws, and with new black paper backlight cover.
* separated 10's of screws, and delicate edge connectors to remove the system board.
* peeled off the backlight black paper off the top case.
* extracted (by force) the old keyboard that was riveted onto the top case.
* placed the new keyboard held now by exactly 100 small T4 screws, and covered the backlight with a new black paper.
* reinstalled the system board with its 10's of screws and multiple edge connectors.
* success.

Note 1: None of the materials and tools were purchased from Apple, which does not believe in "Right-to-Repair". All guides were published independently from Apple, countering Apple's policies (YouTube videos, and iFixIt guides).

The alternative of going to Apple for this repair: >$600. Difference: $25 keyboard and backlight paper plus $30 forever, quality tools.

Why not Apple? Because the battery was in perfect shape (90%, 64 cycles), and the Apple "genius" refused the low-cost "battery" repair, recommended by Apple due to battery exhaustion (which i did not have).

Note 2: The "Apple repair" of an exhausted battery is exactly the same to that of replacing the keyboard, following their standard replacement practices. Apple would replace the entire top case (battery, keyboard, backlight, speakers and aluminum) instead of doing what I did.

But what i did is what reuse/repairing/recycling is all about. Even in the presence of Apple's poor design-for-repair practices.
Rating: 5 Votes

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