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Apple recycling robot Liam

Apple Strikes Gold with Recycling Efforts

Apple recycling robot LiamRecycling is paying off for Apple — to the tune of about $43.6 million in gold.

According to Apple’s environmental responsibility report, the company recovered 2,204 pounds (a little over a ton) of gold from recycled electronic devices last year from its take-back initiatives and other recycling events. The take-back initiatives allow customers to drop off Apple products at stores or mail them in to be recycled.

Gold sells for about $1,237.50 an ounce.

Apple also recovered 23 million pounds of steel; 13 million pounds of plastic; 12 million pounds of glass; 4.5 million pounds of aluminum; 3 million pounds of copper; and 6,600 pounds of silver.

In total, Apple recovered 61.4 million pounds of material for reuse from its recycling efforts last year.

Overall, Apple collected about 90 million pounds of e-waste last year. That’s 71 percent of the total weight of the products sold seven years earlier.

The company’s take-back and recycling programs not only divert waste from landfills and keep e-waste from harming people and the environment, they also save the company money. Recycling plastic and glass means Apple doesn’t have to buy new materials. Apple is also saving on future mining efforts by reusing recovered gold and other metals in its products. For example, each iPhone contains about 25 milligrams of gold worth about $1, according to Forbes.

Because existing recycling techniques like shredding only recover some materials from electronics, Apple invented Liam (pictured), a recycling robot, that the company says can disassemble 1.2 million phones a year, sorting all of their valuable materials so they can be recycled and reducing the need for mining resources.

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