Apple's Recycling Program Brings in $43M in Gold

Apple recycled two-thirds of nearly 90M pounds of electronic waste in 2015
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2016 8:33 AM CDT
Apple's Recycling Program Brings in $43M in Gold
Apple's robot Liam can disassemble an iPhone in 11 seconds and sort its parts for recycling.   (Apple)

Apple has released figures on its Apple Renew recycling program, and it's clearly paying dividends. Out of nearly 90 million pounds of electronic equipment it recovered last year, 61 million pounds were recycled, Apple reports. Specifically, it reclaimed 23 million pounds of steel; 13 million pounds of plastic; 12 million pounds of glass; 4.5 million pounds of aluminum; 3 million pounds of copper; 6,600 pounds of silver; and 2,200 pounds of gold. That amounts to $1.7 million worth of silver, $6.5 million of copper—and a whopping $43 million in gold, reports Quartz.

Activist group Fairphone, which watches electronics supply chains, notes that a typical smartphone contains 30 milligrams of gold, mainly in circuit boards and other internal components, reports Business Insider. It's not a lot, but spread across millions of phones and other electronics, it adds up. CNNMoney reports that while it's pricey, gold is a popular choice in consumer electronics for being corrosion resistant yet excellent at conducting electricity. (Silver is a superior conductor but corrodes easily.) In March, Apple unveiled an experimental bot called Liam, which can disassemble an iPhone in 11 seconds and sort its parts for recycling. Prototypes are already at work, and the line is designed to take apart 1.2 million phones a year. "It's an experiment in recycling technology, and we hope this kind of thinking will inspire others," Apple notes. (This woman unknowingly dropped off a $200K Apple I to be recycled.)

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