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Apple is opening up its world of iPhone recycling


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Apple is opening up its world of iPhone recycling

Keep this in mind as Earth Day approaches: All those iPhones don't recycle themselves.

 

Hidden not far from downtown Austin, Texas, a research lab is working to change the way we recycle electronics. And it's being run by Apple.

 

If you don't know exactly where it is, you'll definitely miss it.

There are no signs. The parking lot is almost empty. There's an unremarkable door at the bottom of a set of generic cement stairs. It looks like the back entrance to a rundown mall.

But inside is a 9,000-square-foot warehouse where, just a stone's throw from the front door, you'll find one of the most interesting robots in the world.

apple-recycling-robot-daisy-8666

Daisy is actually a series of five robot arms working in an elaborate dance.

James Martin/CNET

Meet Daisy. Daisy is 33 feet long, has five arms and can methodically deconstruct any of 15 iPhone models -- from 2012's iPhone 5to 2018's iPhone XS -- at a rate of 200 per hour. In a coordinated and sometimes violent dance, Daisy removes the screen, battery, screws, sensors, logic board and wireless charging coil, leaving its husk of an aluminum shell.

Apple invited me here not just to see Daisy in action, but also the Material Recovery Lab that's been built up around it. Last year, Apple announced Daisy for the first time to the world via a press release and video. Now it's inviting in academics, recyclers and other companies to learn how Daisy works.

 

And, hopefully, use its technology to make e-recycling around the world better.

 

"This is about the big, hairy goal of making all our products from recycled materials," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, in an interview. "It's going to take a while, but it'll also take tons of innovation."

 

 

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