Gold bars in a vault at Shinhan Bank in Seoul, South Korea
Gold bars in a vault at Shinhan Bank in Seoul, South Korea

Apple recovered one tonne of gold by recycling iPhones last year

By stripping down old iPhones, iPads and Macbooks, Apple recovered huge quantities of precious metals

Doug Bolton@DougieBolton
Sunday 17 April 2016 09:27

Apple has revealed it reclaimed almost one metric tonne of gold by recycling its own products in 2015.

At current prices, that's equivalent to around £28 million worth of gold.

The figure was revealed in Apple's recently-released Environmental Responsibility Report, which details the results of the company's eco-friendly efforts in the last financial year.

As well as the gold, Apple recovered three tonnes of silver (worth around £1.1 million at current prices), and over 1,300 tonnes of copper.

These valuable materials were reclaimed through the Apple Renew scheme, which lets customers hand in their worn-out Apple devices in exchange for money off future Apple purchases.

Some of the recycling is done by Apple's line of prototype 'Liam' robots, which are designed to take apart old Apple devices while detecting and separating their valuable elements.

Electronics companies don't put gold in their devices just to be extravagant - the metal is used in computer components because it's an excellent conductor, and doesn't tend to corrode or oxidise in the same way as copper or aluminium.

The Environmental Report also revealed other areas in which Apple is trying to reduce its carbon footprint - the sleek packaging for the iPhone 6S is 20 per cent lighter and 34 per cent smaller than the box the first-generation iPhone came in.

Additionally, all of the company's data centres - which power services like iMessage, Siri and FaceTime - run on renewable energy, and Apple's carbon emissions have fallen every year since 2011, from 137.2kg of CO2 per product to 114.2 in 2015.

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