iPhone recycling is Apple’s latest gold mine


Apple recycling program
It looks like Apple's recycling program is paying off.
Photo: Warner Bros.

If this whole computer and smartwatch thing doesn’t work out, Apple could have a prosperous future in iPhone recycling.

The company released its annual environmental report today, which covers 2015. While the whole thing is pretty interesting, we really started paying attention at the part where the company shared how much material its recycling initiative had recovered from collected iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and anything else people sent in.

Apple says it recovered over 61 million pounds of stuff, and at today’s prices, it’s worth well over $50 million.

Apple iphone recycling numbers
That’s a lot of “aluminium.”
Photo: Apple

The gold alone is worth almost $40 million, Business Insider reports. But we were curious about the rest of it, so we ran these figures through today’s metal prices (accessed April 14) to see what other riches Apple is sitting on. Here’s how it shakes down:

    • Copper — $6.4m

    • Aluminum — $3.2m

    • Silver — $1.6m

    • Nickel — $160,426

    • Zinc — $109,503

    • Lead — $33,999

Sure, none of those figures is $40 million, but it all adds up.

Of course, it’s not like Apple is selling this stuff off for a fat payday; it’s more likely that it will reuse everything it can.

“In 2015, we collected nearly 90 million pounds of e­waste through our recycling programs,” Apple says. “That’s 71 percent of the total weight of the products we sold seven years earlier.”

We first heard about the recycling initiative at the most recent corporate event, when Apple introduced its incredibly efficient (and slightly terrifying) iPhone-stripping robot, Liam, to the world.

You can catch up on the rest of Apple’s green initiatives in the full report.


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