Apple pushes recycling with ‘Daisy’ robot, but mining still necessary

Apple is working to transform how electronics are recycled with a robot named “Daisy” that disassembles iPhone so that rare earth and other metals can be reused, yet rising global demand for electronics means new mines will still be necessary.


Inside a nondescript warehouse on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, Apple’s Daisy robot has been designed to break apart iPhones so that 14 minerals, including lithium, can be extracted and recycled… Daisy can tear apart 200 iPhones per hour. In 2017, the robot in Austin processed 1 million iPhones, Apple said…

Apple is already using recycled aluminum, tin, cobalt and rare earths in some of its products, with plans to add to that list in coming years.

Apple is considering sharing the Daisy technology with others, including electric automakers… “Apple is in an enviable position, because they can do this,” said Tom Butler, president of the International Council on Mining and Metals, an industry trade group. “Not everyone else will be able to follow suit.” Many mining executives also note that with the rising popularity of electric vehicles, newly mined minerals will be needed in even larger scale, a reality that Apple acknowledges.

MacDailyNews Note: Apple’s latest MacBook Air and Mac mini feature enclosures are made from 100% recycled aluminum. Apple uses many materials. To determine which to tackle first, Apple created Material Impact Profiles which serve to break down the environmental, social, and global supply impacts of each material. As a result, Apple has prioritized cobalt, tungsten, rare earth elements, tantalum, steel, copper, tin, glass, plastics, zinc, lithium, paper, gold, and aluminum. In 2019 these efforts will prevent Apple from mining more than 900,000 metric tons of aluminum-bearing bauxite. Apple created the Daisy disassembly robot that recovers iPhone materials that other recyclers can’t, like tungsten and rare earth elements. The more materials Apple can recover, the more they can reuse and recycle — including the aluminum used in new MacBook Air and Mac mini. Find out more about Apple’s approach environmental responsibility here.

Related articles:
Apple’s new iPhones use recycled rare earth elements in a key component – September 18, 2019
Apple promises to one day stop mining minerals to make iPhones – April 20, 2017

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