The amount of gold and silver recycled by Apple is no small feat. Tech industry metal recycling will become more important as the price of metals rise while the cost of recycling and advances in technology make it all possible…
Originally Reportd by Mark Molloy in The Telegraph
Apple has revealed how it recovered almost a ton of gold [metric] from recycling products such as iPhones and iPads last year.
The Cupertino-based company saved an estimated £28 million worth of gold, figures in its Environmental Responsibility Report suggests.
Apple also recovered 6,612lbs of silver, 2,953,360lbs of copper and 101,000lbs of steel, through the take-back initiatives.
The Tech giant processed an estimated 90 million pounds of unwanted electronics through its recycling programme, which lets customers trade in their old products for money off future Apple devices.
Apple also introduced its Liam robots, which are “designed to disassemble 1.2 million phones a year, sorting all their high-quality components and reducing the need to mine more resources from the earth”.
“That’s why we’ve developed recycling collection events, take-back initiatives, and efforts like Apple Renew, a global program that lets you bring used Apple devices to any Apple Store for reuse or responsible recycling.
“Through our efforts, we’ve kept more than 597 million pounds of equipment out of landfills since 1994. In 2015, we collected nearly 90 million pounds of e-waste through our recycling programs. That’s 71 per cent of the total weight of the products we sold seven years earlier.”
Gold is available through three basic channels. Mine production, above ground supply, and recycling. According to the World Gold Council, recycling from tech, while certainly impressive, is comparatively a small percentage of gold supply:
Mine production accounts for the largest part of gold supply – typically, 75% each year. However, annual demand requires more gold than is newly mined and the shortfall is made up from recycling.
Gold Mining and its associated activities does not respond to price changes quickly. There is usually a very long lead time between exploring and finding new gold deposits and mines entering into production.
As it is virtually indestructible, nearly all of the gold ever mined is theoretically still accessible in one form or another and potentially available for recycling.
Recycling is the source of gold supply that is most immediately responsive to the gold price and economic shocks. The majority of recycled gold – around 90% – comes from jewellery, with gold extracted from technology providing the remaining 10%.
Of course, for gold to be of a guaranteed quality, it needs to be processed and refined.
We’re sure Apple won’t divulge the secrets of it’s metals recycling program, so here’s some high-tech gold recycling in action, albeit low-tech compared to Apple robots. Warning – Don’t Try This At Home: