Apple’s Recycling Program Strikes Gold

What do you do with your old Macs and iDevices? If you’re like most people, you probably throw them out. 

In fact, in 2016, the world generated 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste, a term used to describe electronics near the end of their “useful life.” That’s the equivalent of nearly 4,500 Eiffel towers, according to “The Global E-waste Monitor 2017.”

Only 20 percent of that amount was recycled through the appropriate channels.

Apple hopes to increase that percentage through its Recycling Program. The company takes your old Macs and iDevices, dismantles them, and collects recyclable materials, including metal, plastic, and glass. Those materials are then used to manufacture new products.

In 2015, Apple collected 90 million pounds of e-waste. Of that amount, 61 million pounds were made up of reusable materials. At 2,204 pounds, gold was a small portion of the total weight. However, due to gold’s trading value, it was one of the most valuable materials collected from the lot.

Some of the other materials included:

  • 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


Who sorted through all of these materials? Why “Liam,” of course, a new line of experimental robots. The bots were designed to dissemble 1.2 million phones a year and rarely take a day off.

By recycling these electronics, Apple and its customers are helping to reduce toxic landfill waste, which can cause problems for the environment. The program also helps to mitigate the need to mine the earth for those same materials.

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