Apple salvaged $43 million worth of gold from discarded Apple products last year

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Apple says it collected nearly 90 million pounds of old iPhones and other electronic waste in 2015, through its electronic-device recycling programs. The haul was enough for the company to recover more than 61 million pounds of material for re-useHere’s what the company reclaimed, according to its recently published annual report on environmental responsibility (pdf):

Material Volume (lbs)
Steel 23,101,000
Plastics 13,422,360
Glass 11,945,680
Aluminium 4,518,200
Copper 2,953,360
Cobalt 189,544
Zinc 130,036
Lead 44,080
Nickel 39,672
Silver 6,612
Tin 4,408
Gold 2,204

On current prices, that amounts to roughly $1.7 million worth of silver, $6.5 million of copper, and $43 million worth of gold.

To extract these materials more efficiently, Apple has a new robot that can disassemble an iPhone in 11 seconds and sort out the parts for recycling. The robot, known as Liam, was unveiled at an Apple press conference in March. Liam prototypes are now being used at Apple facilities in California and in the Netherlands, the company says. “It’s an experiment in recycling technology, and we hope this kind of thinking will inspire others,” Apple notes in its report.



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