Meet Daisy: Apple’s latest iPhone-recycling robot

To celebrate Earth Day (22 April), technology giant Apple has evolved its old recycling robot, Liam, into Daisy – a super-powered AI machine capable of recovering valuable materials from up to 200 devices an hour.

Apple famously unveiled Liam the recycling robot in March 2016. The machinery was capable of disassembling iPhones to recover materials that traditional recyclers couldn’t.

Now, just days before Earth Day, Apple has revealed that Liam has undergone its own disassembling, with key parts used to create Daisy the robot, which is capable of reclaiming valuable materials from nine different iPhone models.

“At Apple, we’re constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet’s precious resources,” Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives Lisa Jackson said. “We’re also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what’s possible when innovation and conservation meet.”

For every 100,000 iPhone 6 devices produced, Liam was able to recover 1,900kg of Aluminium, 800kg of Copper, 0.3kg of Gold, 55kg of Tin, 550kg of Cobalt, and 24kg of Rare Earth Elements. Conflict minerals such as Tungsten and Tantalum could also be recovered.

Daisy can streamline this performance to produce these materials at a much faster rate, as explained in the video below.

Apple announced it is transitioning to 100% recycled tin on the main logic board of the iPhone, while also using reclaimed aluminium to build new devices. The company is looking to recover cobalt from lithium-ion batteries used in the phones. This builds on Apple’s aim to “one day stop mining the earth altogether”.

Apple GiveBack

For this Earth Day, Apple has also said it will make a donation to Conservation International for every device handed in to Apple stores or via the company’s website. The Apple GiveBack programme will run until 30 April with donations set to help the charity protect the environment.

Eligible devices handed in will receive credit that customers can use toward in-store purchases or on gift cards.

Last week, Apple announced that its global facilities, including retail stores, offices and data centres across 43 countries, are powered with 100% renewable energy. Nine additional manufacturing partners have also committed to powering their Apple production lines with 100% renewable energy – bringing suppliers enrolled on the scheme to 23.

In 2017, Apple tripled the number of supplier sites listed in its energy efficiency programme aimed at reducing onsite emissions.

Matt Mace

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