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Apple Expanding Its Recycling Programs with Daisy, a New Disassembly Robot

Apple - Daisy recycling robot© by Apple

Apple announced a major expansion of its recycling programs, with plans to quadruple the number of material recovery locations that U.S. customers will be able to send their discarded iPhones to for disassembly. A new recycling robot, called Daisy, will be installed at each location.

Apple has received nearly 1 million devices through Apple recycling programs. Each Daisy can disassemble 15 different iPhone types of models at a rate of up to 200 per hour (1.2 million devices per year), recovering aluminum and other valuable materials for recycling. In 2018, the company refurbished more than 7.8 million Apple devices and helped divert more than 48,000 tonnes 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.”

The aluminum recovered through this trade-in program will be remelted into the enclosures for the MacBook Air and the Mac Mini — which was made possible through the engineering of an aluminum alloy made from 100% recycled aluminum. The use of recycled aluminum nearly halves the carbon footprint compared to earlier models. As of 2019, recovered aluminum the Apple Trade In program is being remelted into the enclosures for the MacBook Air.

Further Research

Apple opened its Material Recovery Lab dedicated to discovering future recycling processes. The new 9,000 sq ft 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.

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