Apple experiencing the financial benefits of resource recycling

US tech firm recovered almost $40m worth of gold from old products last year

Apple’s annual Environmental Responsibility Report reveals that the US tech giant raked in millions of extra revenue last year as a result of product recycling at its California base.

During Apple’s latest media event, it announced a big push in the recycling direction, with the launch of its clever disassembling robot, Liam, which can take an iPhone 6 apart in 11 seconds. The US firm recognises the importance of manufacturer responsibility and the benefits of a circular economy business model.

Apple recovered $40m in gold from old products

Apple increased its revenue by recycling old products in 2015


In typical fashion, Apple has began its recycling efforts in style. The firm’s innovative recycling robots have been hard at work throughout the previous year and have recovered millions of dollars worth of valuable materials from Apple products that have been returned under the company’s Renew take-back programme.

The company’s annual Environmental Responsibility Report shows that Apple recovered 2,204 pounds of gold in 2015. According to, in the current market this amount of gold is worth $39,502,000. Apple is recycling millions of iPhones and computers each year; FairPhone claims that each iPhone contains 30mg of gold.

In total, Apple recovered an impressive 61,357,800 pounds of valuable materials in 2015. The clever robots also extracted 2,953,360 pounds of copper; 4,518,200 pounds of aluminium; 39,672 pounds of nickel; and 6612 pounds of silver.

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EU member states think circular economy ‘could harm recycling rates’

Recycling rates could be affected by the new circular economy package

Representatives from Germany, Austria, Sweden and other EU member states have converged at a conference in London to discuss the effects that the new Circular Economy package could have upon the nations’ recycling rates.

The EU Commission’s Circular Economy package must first be passed as a law by the Council of the European Union before member states have to act upon its proposals, but if it was to get approval by the council, EU nations would have to change the way they “measure their progress towards the municipal waste recycling target”.

The current recycling rate is set at 50% by 2020 and EU members can calculate how much they are recycling by using either one of four EU Commission approved methodologies. At present, Germany and Austria are two of the top performing member states, recycling 64% and 57% respectively.

The Energy from Waste Conference took place in London on Wednesday, 24 February, and was attended by representatives from member states, including from top performing nations, who are concerned that the new regulations proposed in the Circular Economy package could negatively effect the recycling rates across the EU.

The commission proposal outlines plans to judge the recycling rate by “the weight of the municipal waste recycled shall be understood as the weight of the input waste entering the final recycling process” rather than the collection of waste meant for recycling.

Jose-Jorge Diaz del Castillo, legal officer for DG Environment for the EU Commission, said: “The Circular Economy package proposes that we are counting only input into the final recycling facility whereas [before] we didn’t know how much comes out as recyclables.”

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