Apple Inc is trying to change the way electronics are recycled with a robot that disassembles its iPhone so that minerals can be recovered and reused, while acknowledging rising global demand for electronics means new mines will still be needed.
The Cupertino, California-based company says the robot is part of its plan to become a “closed-loop” manufacturer that does not rely on the mining industry, an aggressive goal that some industry analysts have said is impossible.
Many mining executives note that with the rising popularity of electric vehicles, newly mined minerals will be needed on an even larger scale, a reality that Apple acknowledges.
“We’re not necessarily competing with the folks who mine,” said Lisa Jackson, the company’s head of environment, policy and social.
“There’s nothing for miners to fear in this development.” Inside a nondescript warehouse on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, Apple’s Daisy robot breaks apart iPhones so that 14 minerals, including lithium, can be extracted and recycled.
Apple is already using recycled tin, cobalt and rare earths in some of its products, with plans to add to that list. The firm last month bought the first commercial batch of carbon-free aluminum from a joint venture between Rio Tinto and Alcoa.