Recycling robot 'Daisy' part of Apple's effort to end mining for resources

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2020
Apple's efforts to improve its recycling has an end goal of becoming a "closed-loop" manufacturer in the future, an extremely difficult goal to accomplish, and one that would end the need to mine for new materials if achieved by the iPhone maker.




The Cupertino-based company has spent many years trying to be as ecologically conscious as possible in many different areas. However, efforts in manufacturing could be further improved by increasing Apple's usage of recycled materials in its products.

One example of this is the use of completely recycled aluminum in the 2018 MacBook Air and Mac mini.

By eliminating the need to use new materials, this would potentially lower the need for the creation and usage of mines, with a so-called "closed-loop" system potentially eliminating the need to mine altogether. In a report from Reuters, Apple claims it is planning to become a closed-loop manufacturer.

The Daisy recycling robot is part of the plan to close the loop, with the machine used to recoup 14 materials from old iPhones including aluminum, tin, cobalt, and rare earths. Up to 200 iPhones per hour can be disassembled by Daisy, with components freed by the process sent off to recyclers for further extraction and refinement.

Lisa Jackson, Apple's head of environment, policy, and social initiatives, told the report the iPhone was the first product selected for Daisy disassembly due to its mass popularity. Indeed, the recycling efforts have led Apple to consider sharing some of the technology used for Daisy with other companies, including those producing electric vehicles.

Despite the ecological effort, critics of the scheme claim it is more a publicity stunt than a serious effort. Device repair outfit iFixit chief executive suggests "There's this ego that believes they can get all their minerals back, and it's not possible."

International Council on Mining and Metals trade group president Tom Butler also believes Apple is in an "enviable position" because it is able to perform such large-scale recycling efforts. "Not everyone else will be able to follow suit."

With the rise of electric vehicles, mining executives insist the need to acquire new materials at a larger scale is inevitable, something not lost on Apple. "We're not necessarily competing with the folks who mine," Jackson proposes. "There's nothing for miners to fear in this development."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    thttht Posts: 4,130member
    Device repair outfit iFixit chief executive suggests "There's this ego that believes they can get all their minerals back, and it's not possible." 

    This quote from the ifixit CEO makes it seem that he and Lisa Jackson have different understandings of what closed loop manufacturing means. Or perhaps he is too deep in his own beliefs to think it is possible?

    Then, maybe the quote is taken out of context as surely he thinks that having 20, 30, 50% use of recycled materials is better than 0%. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobraminicoffee
  • Reply 2 of 57
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 370member
    It's a feel-good move by Apple to save money when building new products. It if ever "closed loop" the company will be dying out because if you have enough coming in to support what you are selling then you are not selling enough product and/or people are buying another brands product.
  • Reply 3 of 57
    Of cause, doing nothing is better than doing something.
  • Reply 4 of 57
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,956member
    Any efforts along these lines should be applauded but it does seem like a publicity stunt to a degree. At least at this point in time.

    Even so, I can't blame them for wanting some publicity from their efforts. Who wouldn't?

    On a higher level, what really achieves change is legislation. Things like WEEE and RoHS have had a big impact and companies have had no option but to comply.
    Bart Ymuthuk_vanalingamminicoffee
  • Reply 5 of 57
    The iFixit CEO is unhappy because the route Apple has taken is to recycle rather than fixit which affects iFixits bottom line.
    StrangeDayslkruppmacxpressBart Ymwhitewatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 57
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,444member
    jimh2 said:
    It's a feel-good move by Apple to save money when building new products. It if ever "closed loop" the company will be dying out because if you have enough coming in to support what you are selling then you are not selling enough product and/or people are buying another brands product.
    Companies can still buy "used" aluminum from cities and other companies who collect minerals without having to buy from mines. Mining is not only hazardous to the human mining but is also devastating to nearby ecologies.
    StrangeDaysbaconstangdysamoriaBart Yjony0bigpicssteveaufastasleepminicoffee
  • Reply 7 of 57
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,444member

    avon b7 said:
    Any efforts along these lines should be applauded but it does seem like a publicity stunt to a degree. At least at this point in time.

    Even so, I can't blame them for wanting some publicity from their efforts. Who wouldn't?

    On a higher level, what really achieves change is legislation. Things like WEEE and RoHS have had a big impact and companies have had no option but to comply.
    "publicity stunt" as in we are the largest company in the world and are showing y'all if we can do it others can as well. endless consumerism has taken its toll Apple is hoping to persuade other to follow, that's how change for the better happens. 
    thtStrangeDaysbaconstangBart YmwhiteOferjony0jas99bigpicsfastasleep
  • Reply 8 of 57
    What readers really want, the video!
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bu-gl7v-P8
    steveau
  • Reply 9 of 57
    Can Daisy recover cobalt, or will Apple’s suppliers still rely on children to mine that for them? 
    dysamoria
  • Reply 10 of 57
    thttht Posts: 4,130member
    Wgkrueger said:
    The iFixit CEO is unhappy because the route Apple has taken is to recycle rather than fixit which affects iFixits bottom line.
    Not even sure why he even needs to be quoted other than he gave a meaty critical quote. 

    Repairability and recycling are complimentary, not in direct conflict and they have separate circumstances driving them. Only a small fraction of people actually want to use a 5 year old phone or computer, or anything used or old. I currently am, but I’m likely a 1 percenter here. If ifixit wants more business or get more people to align with their values, their job is really to convince people to use old stuff, convince a major fraction of the market, like 20%, 30% or more. 

    That’s going to be pretty difficult, and I’m not sure what the OEM is responsible for here. Apple is reselling used devices, they help recycle their products, and are trying to do better. 

    Like others said in the Reuter’s article, improving use of recycled materials likely requires regulation, like taxes on mined materials and tax incentives for recycled materials. One thing they noted is that Apple is a minuscule fraction of mined materials, so they can go closed loop with recycled materials because so much of it is being trashed in other products. 

    Which leads to the question of why the ifixit quote is even in the article other than to provide some negativity. If ifixit wants to make a dent in the universe, it probably should be in big stuff, like cars, transportation, building materials, food, etc. or mayhap, trash. Trash is big business, especially if it could be mined. 
    Bart Ytmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 57
    Aren't the robotics made from the same materials? Seems like a zero sum game. That said, I'm pretty confident that advances in materials science will eventually provide alternatives to many of the rare earths and other things used in electronics. 

    2019-04-alternatives-ease-demand-scarce-rare-earth.html


    edited January 2020
  • Reply 12 of 57
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,760member
    iFixit chief executive suggests "There's this ego that believes they can get all their minerals back, and it's not possible." 

    ...what a maroon. He’s actually trying to spin an effort to use existing materials as a negative ego thing. WTF is wrong with this guy. 

    Also, using existing materials isn’t the same as claiming they’ll get all their minerals used by each and every product back. Conflation or strawman, you decide. 
    baconstangBart Ypscooter63tmayjas99bigpicsfastasleep
  • Reply 13 of 57
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member
    mr lizard said:
    Can Daisy recover cobalt, or will Apple’s suppliers still rely on children to mine that for them? 
    Yes, Apple's suppliers and all manufacturer' supplier's will continue to rely on children to mine cobalt for them. What's your dumbass point? And whose fault is it that children are working in those mines? The manufacturers or the governments of the countries the mines exist in that allow it? I vote the corrupt governments who have no decency and respect for their citizens. People like you are always after the "gotcha" moment but can never offer a solution, can you?
    edited January 2020 bageljoeybaconstangmacxpresspscooter63mwhiteGG1jas99muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 57
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,628member

    iFixit chief executive suggests "There's this ego that believes they can get all their minerals back, and it's not possible." 

    ...what a maroon. He’s actually trying to spin an effort to use existing materials as a negative ego thing. WTF is wrong with this guy. 

    Also, using existing materials isn’t the same as claiming they’ll get all their minerals used by each and every product back. Conflation or strawman, you decide. 
    iFixit doesn't do any repairs themselves. You cannot send your iPhone in to them for repair. They  don't sell any parts other than screens, batteries. Oh, they do sell a replacement home button with the caveat that Touch ID functions cannot be restored. They sell cheap tools and offer user submitted instructions on how to take things part. That's it. Their loudmouthed CEO has an axe to grind over how difficult something is to take apart and repair. And as for the title CEO I suspect that iFixit is probably a one or two man operation in a rented office space.
    edited January 2020 baconstangBart Ytmaybigpics
  • Reply 15 of 57
    lkrupp said:
    mr lizard said:
    Can Daisy recover cobalt, or will Apple’s suppliers still rely on children to mine that for them? 
    Yes, Apple and all manufacturers will continue to rely on children to mine cobalt for them. What's your dumbass point? And whose fault is it that children are working in those mines? The manufacturers or the governments of the countries the mines exist in that allow it? I vote the corrupt governments who have no decency and respect for their citizens. People like you are always after the "gotcha" moment but can never offer a solution, can you?
    And what do exactly is your solution? 

    Why didn’t you mention consumers and capitalism itself when listing entities at fault? 

    It’s a free market, after all. And when demand exceeds supply, and companies like Apple choose to source materials from questionable sources to meet that demand, really, we consumers (myself included) are responsible for our hunger in new devices. 
  • Reply 16 of 57
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    iFixit chief executive suggests "There's this ego that believes they can get all their minerals back, and it's not possible." 

    ...what a maroon. He’s actually trying to spin an effort to use existing materials as a negative ego thing. WTF is wrong with this guy. 

    Also, using existing materials isn’t the same as claiming they’ll get all their minerals used by each and every product back. Conflation or strawman, you decide. 
    Different perspective.   It can be argued that Apples approach is resource intensive as their intention is to remanufacture everything.   There is a much more supportable view that we should repair and use things for as long as possible.  While there are issues with both sides the idea of recycling a fully working iPhone of recent vintage is just asinine.   It is far better to keep such in use until it is no longer viable.  

    As such I really don’t think a Apple cares about the environment as much as they are about keeping sales volumes high.   In this case by Aggressive recycling they pull perfectly functional devices off the market.    I really doubt that Apples internal goals align with the public sell on these programs. 

    Apples claims on what they can get back are misleading and in any event wouldn’t mean much if sales continue to rise.    Recycling is never perfect.  Take aluminum for example  which recycles well but it is never perfect.   Oxides and contamination exists in all recycling processes that are not easily addressed and often end up as waste.   Note that Aluminum, most metals in fact, do recycle but there is always waste.    Other materials don’t even come close to being recyclable.  

    In the end all I can say is don’t be gullible!   Recycling isn’t always the right answer when it comes to environmental impact.    In this case I’m pretty sure Apple is smiling behind our backs knowing that they are taking millions of usable phones out of circulation. 
  • Reply 17 of 57
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,032member
    tht said:
    Device repair outfit iFixit chief executive suggests "There's this ego that believes they can get all their minerals back, and it's not possible." 

    This quote from the ifixit CEO makes it seem that he and Lisa Jackson have different understandings of what closed loop manufacturing means. Or perhaps he is too deep in his own beliefs to think it is possible?

    Then, maybe the quote is taken out of context as surely he thinks that having 20, 30, 50% use of recycled materials is better than 0%. 
    This article has the headline stating it's to "end" mining, instead of a more reasonable reduction. I don't know if that's something Apple has stated or if how AI interpreted a desire to reduce mining, but as Apple grows in unit sales and into more product offerings, not to mention the number of devices that stay in use for years to come, even if they were Apple to use 100% of recycled material they'd still need to source outside their own device chain.

    Regardless of what Apple can achieve, this is a great thing.
    baconstangtmayStrangeDaysfastasleep
  • Reply 18 of 57
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    lkrupp said:

    iFixit chief executive suggests "There's this ego that believes they can get all their minerals back, and it's not possible." 

    ...what a maroon. He’s actually trying to spin an effort to use existing materials as a negative ego thing. WTF is wrong with this guy. 

    Also, using existing materials isn’t the same as claiming they’ll get all their minerals used by each and every product back. Conflation or strawman, you decide. 
    iFixit doesn't do any repairs themselves. You cannot send your iPhone in to them for repair. They  don't sell any parts other than screens, batteries. Oh, they do sell a replacement home button with the caveat that Touch ID functions cannot be restored. They sell cheap tools and offer user submitted instructions on how to take things part. That's it. Their loudmouthed CEO has an axe to grind over how difficult something is to take apart and repair. And as for the title CEO I suspect that iFixit is probably a one or two man operation in a rented office space.
    He offers up honest points of view.   The fact that you get triggered over them is your problem.    I’m  close to completely leaving the Mac ecosystem over Apples stupidity so I can’t argue with Ifixit’s point of view.    There really is no justification for making desktop Macs the mess they are.  
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 57
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,032member
    hucom2000 said:

    It’s a free market, after all. And when demand exceeds supply, and companies like Apple choose to source materials from questionable sources to meet that demand, really, we consumers (myself included) are responsible for our hunger in new devices. 
    Um, no.


    Apple can do better—we can all do better—but you can't find a corporation as large and successful as Apple that does better at responsible sourcing of raw materials.
    tmayStrangeDaysJWSC
  • Reply 20 of 57
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,032member
    lkrupp said:
    iFixit chief executive suggests "There's this ego that believes they can get all their minerals back, and it's not possible." 

    ...what a maroon. He’s actually trying to spin an effort to use existing materials as a negative ego thing. WTF is wrong with this guy. 

    Also, using existing materials isn’t the same as claiming they’ll get all their minerals used by each and every product back. Conflation or strawman, you decide. 
    iFixit doesn't do any repairs themselves. You cannot send your iPhone in to them for repair. They  don't sell any parts other than screens, batteries. Oh, they do sell a replacement home button with the caveat that Touch ID functions cannot be restored. They sell cheap tools and offer user submitted instructions on how to take things part. That's it. Their loudmouthed CEO has an axe to grind over how difficult something is to take apart and repair. And as for the title CEO I suspect that iFixit is probably a one or two man operation in a rented office space.
    That's not it. They have excellent tools, which includes tools specifically designed to repair specific Apple products. Their walkthroughs are very specific in the tools, parts, time, and difficultly for repairs, and most of them are created in-house. They have breakdowns of each step, often with labels of every part (including screws that may be slightly different even if they look the same to the naked eye), and colored labels for their images to show what everything is. I find these invaluable for doing repairs.

    Yeah, they do sell Home Buttons and Touch ID won't work since the Touch ID button is tied to the logic board's Secure Element for security, but that's a good thing and not exactly a reason to hate iFixit for that. I recently bought a Home Button for an old iPhone specifically because it would go to someone that already doesn't use Touch ID.

    If you have a cracked display and don't have AC+ you can make an iPhone that would have zero value as a trade-in be worth hundreds of dollar. That's a net gain for a fairly simple repair.
    Ofermuthuk_vanalingam
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