Can Apple turn into a “mined” company by recycling the iPhone?


Editor’s note: This article is from the micro-channel public number “love child norm” (ID: ifanr), Author: Musi, 36 krypton authorized release of Apple in Austin, Texas, has a factory, where the workers of the mainThe task is not to produce new equipment, but to “destroy” old iPhones that have been recycled from around the world.They are only part of Apple’s recycling project. Lisa Jackson, the company’s vice president of the environment department, recently spoke to Reuters about future goals, hoping that one day Apple can break away from its dependence on mining and achieveSelf-sufficiency in production.Where can the mine come from?Naturally, it is extracted from the recycling equipment, or it is to feed its own production with the help of renewable materials.This basically reaffirms Apple’s vision of a “circular supply chain”. It first appeared in the Environmental Responsibility Report issued by Apple in 2017, and in the 2018 and 2019 reports, Apple also mentioned the company’sprogress.An important point is the design of the recycling process.When Ai Faner visited Apple ’s Texas plant in April last year, he reported that many traditional recycling processes have adopted non-standard manual dismantling methods, which not only causes pollution, but also that the purity of many metals after melting and melting is not high enough to satisfyRequirements for reproduction.Because of this, as early as 2016, Apple announced the self-developed iPhone recycling robot Liam.This is a device with a huge robotic arm that can separate iPhone 6 components one by one like “peeling fruits” and send them to a designated recycling area to reduce the chance of different types of metals contaminating each other.In 2018, Apple also launched an upgraded version of the “Daisy” robot.Now it has been able to automatically recognize 15 iPhone models. On average, it can disassemble up to 200 iPhones per hour. It can also process materials that cannot be recycled by traditional recycling agencies, such as tungsten in the vibration motor of the iPhone, which further improvesApple’s recycling breadth and ratio.On the surface, Apple’s emphasis on recycling is obviously taking into account the impact of environmental issues on brand image, and in some cases, recycling can also be used as a means to stimulate consumers to change.For example, in recent years, Apple has put a “old for new” poster on the official website’s homepage or offline store, to encourage users to sell old iPhones to Apple, so that they can get a new device at a lower price.However, the “circular supply chain” including the recycling process itself is still a project with many challenges.If reducing carbon emissions and reducing energy consumption can also be achieved by developing clean energy and optimizing production processes, then these waste electronic equipment can be completely returned to the market without being wasted, and can be achieved year after year.The cycle of the year will require more exploration and trade-offs in the use of raw materials.Picture from: Reuters At present, Apple has carried out a classification assessment of dozens of elements and raw materials that may be used in the production of equipment. Some of them do have the possibility of recyclability and demand, such as tin and aluminum.Apple often sends the dismantled components to upstream recycling plants, allowing them to return the processed raw materials to Apple.But there are also some raw materials such as rare earth elements, which themselves use very little amount, and traditional institutions can’t achieve technical recycling. Apple can only develop new technologies to solve them. As for plastics, Apple will seek new materials to replace them.After two years of hard work, we have indeed seen part of the results achieved by Apple.Since 2017, Apple has used 100% recycled tin solder on the motherboards of all iPhones, Macs, and iPads, which will reduce Apple’s mining of nearly 29,000 tons of tin ore in 2019.In 2018, Apple introduced MacBook Air and Mac mini models with 100% recycled aluminum bodies, some of which were recycled from the iPhone.Last year, the vibration motors in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro series were also made of 100% recycled rare earth elements.In December 2019, Apple also purchased the first “ carbon-free aluminum ” from two Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto.In the official presentation, Apple emphasized that this will bring revolutionary progress to the global aluminum metal manufacturing industry.Literally, “carbon-free aluminum” can achieve “zero emissions” of carbon dioxide during production, which can be converted to emit oxygen because the carbon is replaced with more advanced conductive materials, and this project also benefits from Apple’s investment.It can be said that under the control of key components of its own products, and some of the metal raw materials can be used across different product lines, Apple does have the ability to recover the raw materials while reusing them and reuse them inIn a new batch of products.Tom Butler, chairman of the International Mining and Metals Council, also believes that Apple may be the only company in the industry with the confidence to achieve the 100% self-sufficiency goal.But this does not mean that other companies can follow suit. After all, huge financial resources need to be invested behind it.Picture from: Some analysts at EJ Insight also said that the “100% closed-loop” goal set by Apple is too ideal, because the recycling rate of electronic waste has been maintained at a low level, except for those that are randomly discarded and traded.Most of them simply go to the landfill after a simple treatment.What’s more, Apple can’t recycle all the old iPhones in the market. It is difficult to make up for the production demand of hundreds of millions of iPhones every year by just dismantling millions of units, which means that it is still difficult for Apple to shake off its dependence on the earth’s minerals.Alex King, director of the Key Materials Research Institute under the U.S. Department of Energy, said: Recycling aluminum is already a relatively mature field in the industry. The problem is those rare earth elements.Some institutions have no ability to recycle them, you can only get them from the mine.We also mentioned in previous articles that with the increase of various types of connected equipment, many technology companies and electric vehicle companies have accelerated cooperation with mines to ensure a stable supply of cobalt, a key raw material for lithium batteries.In fact, the battery alone, as long as humans have not found a suitable alternative, major mines do not have to worry about their business being affected.The teardown website iFixit also stated in an article in 2019 that for most recyclers, they need a “universal solution” for electronics recycling, not an expensive machine that can only disassemble 15 iPhones.Arm, because that would not bring them substantial economic benefits.If Apple really considers environmental protection, it should not only focus on recycling equipment, but also reduce the difficulty of repairing equipment so that they can be repaired by third parties, so that consumers can use it for a longer time.This is also a point that people often talk about Apple products, especially when it is put together with Apple’s environmental protection strategy, there will be a feeling of using the spear to attack the sub shield.Picture from: Washingtonpost In May 2019, OneZero had an opportunity to contact Apple AirPods recyclers.Unlike the iPhone, which already has a mature recycling solution, for airtight devices like AirPods, workers say they must use tools such as pliers to manually open the case, and then remove the battery and audio driver.The most important thing is that the current recycling profit of AirPods can’t cover the recycling cost. The entire recycling work can only be realized when Apple is willing to make up for the losses of the recycler. It just proves the recyclability of this pair of headphones, but it obviously does notHas the value of mass popularization.After all, as a business company with hardware sales as the core, letting Apple not encourage users to upgrade and not make profits, but to conscientiously keep the old devices in the pockets of consumers, which is itself unrealistic.thing.But just as it puts personal privacy on the table, for Apple, which has a trillion-dollar market value, the topic of environmental protection and profitability will always be in a delicate balance.If there is no commercial success, then it doesn’t have to force itself to face the public and shoulder the social responsibility equivalent to its huge size; it just brings products with better experience for users without saving the earth, and probably notWhat will be criticized.Not every big company will be concerned about the fact that it only affects the world and does not affect the planet.Image source: Apple.

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