Apple unveils Liam recycling robot that takes apart iPhones

“Apple Inc on Monday unveiled a robotic system called Liam to take apart junked iPhones and recover valuable materials that can be recycled, such as silver and tungsten,” Valerie Volcovici reports for Reuters. “The move is an attempt to address criticism that Apple’s products, while sleek and seamless in design, are so tightly constructed that their components can be difficult to diassemble, refurbish and reuse.”

“Liam, which has been under development for nearly three years, will initially focus on the iPhone 6. Apple plans to modify and expand the system to handle different devices and recover more resources, the company said,” Volcovici reports. “The system started to operate at full capacity last month and can take apart one iPhone 6 every 11 seconds to recover aluminum, copper, tin, tungsten, cobalt, gold and silver parts, according to Apple.”

“The recycling system consists of 29 robotic modules on a single site near Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. It will focus initially on iPhone 6 phones sold in the United States, where Apple gets about 40 percent of its revenue,” Volcovici reports. “A second Liam is being installed in Europe, Apple said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Environmentally conscious smartphone users have one very clear choice: Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

Buying an Android knockoff likely means contributing electronic waste and damaging the environment.

11 Comments

    1. Actually, re-use is more environmentally friendly.

      In my opinion Apple is missing out on an opportunity to enter the used device market. Cars are valuable beyond their initial owner, same for Apple iPhones. They could easily take over India if they sold used 1st world iPhones there. Then put Liam in India to take those twice+ used devices apart.

      1. Watch the actual presentation. Apple has it covered. The part that shows Liam is titled “Reuse and Recycling” NOT “Recycling.” The presenter says

        “The BEST way [to not have our products end up in a landfill] is to have them be reused. That’s why we design our products to last. And we are happy to say that thanks to their durability, the vast majority of iPhone we get back end up being reused… But at some point even our products need to be recycled.”

        And THAT leads to the video showing Apple’s “new approach” to recycling (“Liam”).

  1. Maybe Liam can tak apart the San Bernadino iPhone and hand the FBI its storage devices so they can get off their inept asses and do their own dirty work…?

  2. ever consider being able to take apart an old iPhone (with a robot) is the opposite side of the coin of bing able to build a robot that is able to assemble an iPhone….

    perhaps w/in a few years just in time production w/ iRobot(s) will displace human workers in China

  3. ever consider being able to take apart an old iPhone (with a robot) is the opposite side of the coin of being able to build a robot that is able to assemble the delicate iPhone….

    perhaps w/in a few years just in time production w/ iRobot(s) will displace human workers in China

  4. Presumably Apple are currently working on developing Mial. A robot that will dismantle Liam when Liam reaches the end of his useful life. Then they will need to build The Last Mial in order to dismantle Mial and so on …..

    Alternatively, looking at it from the point of view of life imitating art, you may remember how the the Pixar film, WALL-E the recycling robot fell in love with a character called EVE who was inspired by Apple’s designs. Well Apple has now developed it’s own version of WALL-E in order to recycle any iPhones that are no longer loved.

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