While many customers may have some experience with the Apple Recycling Program, which allows you to trade in your old iPhone or iPad, a new article from Bloomberg has given new insight into how the company goes about recycling used devices. The first step is always for the recyclers to either buy the used phone to sell on the second-hand market, or scrap it in a detailed deconstruction process. Apple makes sure to monitor the entire process.
Apple pays for the service and owns every gram, from the used phone at the start to the pile of dust at the end, said Linda Li, chief strategy officer for Li Tong. The journey, consisting of about 10 steps, is controlled, measured and scripted through vacuum-sealed rooms that are designed to capture 100 percent of the chemicals and gasses released during the process, she said.
Interestingly, while other companies allow components from recycled devices to be salvaged for repairs or for use in other products, Apple requires each scrapped iPhone to be completely destroyed. This process is more expensive and time consuming than re-purposing parts, though Apple evidently does this to avoid having fake Apple products pop up on the secondary device market that use some genuine Apple parts or logos.
Once destroyed, the leftover materials like gold and copper are sent to a storage facility. From there, they can be purchased for use in creating furniture, window frames, and other products.