Apple recovered around 61 million pounds of e-scrap in 2015, according to the company.
“We work hard to keep electronic devices out of landfills so that the precious resources they contain can be reused,” the company stated in its latest Environmental Responsibility Report. “And we want to ensure that these devices are recycled properly so they don’t pose a threat to human health or the environment.”
The report delved into recovered materials, recycled content in devices and new disassembly technologies.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based electronics giant participates in state extended producer responsibility programs, currently in place in 25 states. It also established reuse and recycling infrastructure in other states and internationally, operating mail-back and in-store collections programs.
The company says it works with more than 160 recycling companies around the world.
During the 2015 fiscal year (October 2014 to September 2015), Apple recovered or paid to have recovered more than 61 million pounds of material. Some of those included the following:
- Steel: 23.1 million pounds
- Plastics: 13.4 million pounds
- Glass: 11.9 million pounds
- Aluminum: 4.5 million pounds
- Copper: 3 million pounds
- Cobalt: 190,000 pounds
- Zinc: 130,000 pounds
- Lead: 44,000 pounds
- Nickel: 40,000 pounds
- Silver: 6,600 pounds
- Tin: 4,400 pounds
- Gold: 2,200 pounds
The company also suggested an increase in recycled aluminum content in its iPhones, although it didn’t disclose what percentage of recycled aluminum is used in the devices. Apple changed the way it makes its aluminum enclosure and re-engineered its manufacturing process to re-incorporate scrap aluminum.
The report also touched on Apple’s new robot, called Liam, built to disassemble iPhones for recycling. Prototypes of the robot are currently in operation in California and the Netherlands. Each Liam unit is capable of disassembling 1.2 million phones per year.
“Existing recycling techniques, like shredding, only recover a few kinds of materials and often diminish their quality,” the report noted.
In the wake of Apple’s report release, Jason Koebler of vice.com wrote a piece delving into the specifics of Apple’s participation in the recycling world, noting that very little of the recycling was actually done by the company. He also noted most of the recovered tonnages did not come from Apple products and that most of the weight was collected in states with manufacturer-funded e-scrap programs.