Apple to open material recovery lab

Apple, Cupertino, California, plans to expand its recycling programs and to open a Material Recovery Lab in Austin, Texas, dedicated to discovering future recycling processes. The new 9,000-square-foot facility will look for innovative solutions involving robotics and machine learning to improve traditional methods that include targeted disassembly, sorting and shredding, the company says. The lab will work with Apple engineering teams and with academia to propose solutions to recycling challenges.

The company says it also plans to quadruple the number of locations U.S. customers can send their iPhones to be disassembled by Daisy, its recycling robot. Daisy will disassemble and recycle select used iPhones returned to Best Buy stores throughout the U.S. and KPN retailers in the Netherlands. Customers also can turn in their eligible devices to be recycled at any Apple store or through as part of the Apple Trade-In program.

According to Apple, it has received nearly 1 million devices through Apple programs, and each Daisy can disassemble 1.2 million devices per year. In 2018, the company says it refurbished more than 7.8 million Apple devices and helped divert more than 48,000 metric tons of electronics from landfills.

Apple reports that Daisy now can disassemble 15 different iPhone models at a rate of 200 per hour. Once Daisy has recovered materials, they are recycled back into the manufacturing process. iPhone batteries are combined with scrap from select manufacturing sites and, for the first time, cobalt recovered through this process is used to make new Apple batteries.

Lisa Jackson, Apple vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, says, “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.”