Apple Opens Material Recovery Lab in Austin to Improve Recycling Efforts

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has opened a new lab that will study how it can expand upon its current recycling processes through machine learning and robotics. The company announced the news today, along with other environmentally-focused updates, including that it will quadruple the number of locations where United States customers can send their iPhone to be disassembled by its recycling robot Daisy in a major expansion of its recycling programs.


    In regards to its new lab, Apple is calling it the "Material Recovery Lab" and says that it will be dedicated to looking for innovative solutions that will improve on traditional methods of recycling. The lab will work with Apple engineering teams and members of academia to address and propose solutions to current recycling challenges. The 9,000 square foot lab is located in Austin, Texas.

    The recycling expansion also includes select iPhones returned to Best Buy stores throughout the United States and KPN retailers in the Netherlands. With the Apple Trade In program, those interested can also turn in their eligible devices to be recycled at any Apple Store or on

    Apple says that Daisy can now disassemble 15 different iPhone models at the rate of 200 per hour, and after materials are recovered from the robot they are recycled back into the manufacturing process. Apple has received nearly 1 million devices through its recycling programs and each Daisy robot can disassemble 1.2 million devices each year.
    Lastly, the company has released its 2019 Environment report with more information on its climate change solutions. These include Apple's recent announcement that 44 of its suppliers -- like Foxconn and Wistron -- have committed to 100 percent renewable energy for their production of Apple products.


    To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, Apple will have environmentally themed Today at Apple sessions at all Apple Stores, feature original stories and app collections on the App Store, and run an Earth Day Apple Watch challenge. The company will also support the efforts of non-profit organizations like Conservation International, SEE Foundation, and The Recycling Partnership, which are all focused on protecting and preserving the environment.

    The front page of has been updated as well, prompting visitors to learn more about Apple and its environmental efforts.

    Article Link: Apple Opens Material Recovery Lab in Austin to Improve Recycling Efforts
  2. HiVolt macrumors 6502a


    Sep 29, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    How about making more repairable products, eh?

    Offer parts to 3rd party repair centres so they can fix stuff Apple or AASP refuse to fix.
  3. Supermacguy macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Does Apple use post-consumer aluminum for iDevices and Macs? They should! Promoting "recyclable" is good but companies need to use that material for products, not using virgin materials. Apple can clearly lead the way on this. We should all be able to say "this iPhone is made from 100% recyclED aluminum and the quality is exactly the same as new-AL iPhones".
  4. DaveRivera macrumors newbie


    Mar 24, 2009
    New England
    They do this with the new MacBook Air, and the Mac mini. 100% recycled aluminum.
  5. FightTheFuture macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2003
    that town east of ann arbor
    I wonder what the numbers are for folks who actually trust 3rd party repair. If such a market exists for other smartphones and PCs, we should’ve seen a wave of these Mr. Robot stores by now.
  6. NightFixer macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2017
    I live in a city with one Apple Store, two Apple authorized repairers and over fifty third party Apple repairers. One of the third party Apple repairers is so busy with their established Government and corporate clients that I had to book in advance.
  7. BootsWalking macrumors 6502a

    Feb 1, 2014
    The best way to improve recycling efforts is to avoid the need for recycling in the first place, ie manufacture devices with easily replaceable parts, including batteries and screens.
  8. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    Look at the MacBook Pro. Even for the simplest repair, Apple requires replacing half the computer.
  9. barmann macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2010
    Standardized , user replacable batteries and standardized ports (cables, chargers) , a policy geared towards maintaining instead of replacing devices, and Apple could almost be taken seriously .

    The renewable energy part is a joke, obviously .
  10. Peperino macrumors 6502a


    Nov 2, 2016
    If Apple care so much about environment, they should stop making disposable non-upgradable appliances (especially computers).

    Start by creating less trash. Any minor repair in a Macbook requires to replace the entire computer.

    Yesterday's technology
    At tomorrow's prices
  11. DaveRivera macrumors newbie


    Mar 24, 2009
    New England
    Really? And do those individual parts not need to be recycled themselves? Can they just be thrown away instead because they are "smaller"? Whatever the "thing" is, a complete top half of a laptop, or just the screen itself, it needs to be recycled or thrown away. Improving of the recycling process itself, so that more things can be recycled more efficiently, is needed for either scenario to improve.

    Sure, making parts replaceable will help, but I do not believe its the best way. Better recycling helps overall. Should they do both? Sure, I think that would be good, but its a whole process, and needs to be seen as a whole process to have a larger impact.
  12. Peperino macrumors 6502a


    Nov 2, 2016
    What Apple is doing is a marketing stunt.
    Although recycling efforts are great, the way they are currently designing computers creates more trash. And the first step to reduce recycling is starting at the source, creating computers that can be easily repaired/upgraded.
  13. jonnysods macrumors 603


    Sep 20, 2006
    There & Back Again
    Make some space for all those broken Galaxy Folds - could be a revenue stream for Apple!
  14. DaveRivera macrumors newbie


    Mar 24, 2009
    New England
    Not sure I believe that. Got some info to back it up? Sounds more like they are actually doing something, but I don't have firsthand knowledge, perhaps you do? If so, please share!
  15. TheShadowKnows! macrumors 6502a


    Sep 30, 2014
    National Capital Region
    Plutonius, although accurate, these are fighting words in this forum.

    As a case in point, I took the challenge to replace the scissor-generation keyboard from my wife's, otherwise-perfect, MBP retina, mid-2014.

    [Why did I need a new keyboard?
    The old keyboard had melted the white fonts from five keys due to extreme heat emanating off the left-side fan (the most critical fan among the two). All due to poor flow management within the cramped (and thin) MBP case.​
    And, I just was unwilling to let go of this MBP to secede to a new-gen, MBP butterfly keyboard.]

    It was a challenge:
    1. used iFixIt steps throughout.
    2. got German-quality screw drivers, new non-OEM keyboard with 100 small T4 screws, and with new black paper backlight cover.
    3. separated 10's of screws, and delicate edge connectors to remove the system board.
    4. peeled off the backlight black paper off the top case.
    5. extracted (by force) the old keyboard that was riveted onto the top case.
    6. placed the new keyboard held now by exactly 100 small T4 screws, and covered the backlight with a new black paper.
    7. reinstalled the system board with its 10's of screws and multiple edge connectors.
    8. success.
    Note 1: None of the materials and tools were purchased from Apple, which does not believe in "Right-to-Repair". All guides were published independently from Apple, countering Apple's policies (YouTube videos, and iFixIt guides).​

    The alternative of going to Apple for this repair: >$600. Difference: $25 keyboard and backlight paper plus $30 forever, quality tools.

    Why not Apple? Because the battery was in perfect shape (90%, 64 cycles), and the Apple "genius" refused the low-cost "battery" repair, recommended by Apple due to battery exhaustion (which i did not have).

    Note 2: The "Apple repair" of an exhausted battery is exactly the same to that of replacing the keyboard, following their standard replacement practices. Apple would replace the entire top case (battery, keyboard, backlight, speakers and aluminum) instead of doing what I did.​

    But what i did is what reuse/repairing/recycling is all about. Even in the presence of Apple's poor design-for-repair practices.
  16. DailySlow, Apr 18, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019

    DailySlow macrumors regular


    Aug 5, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    Making all devices basically home repairable would run (back) into the limitations of hand size, hardware (screws), soldering of 15 years ago - Daisy can learn to do the real feat of salvaging just as assembly has gone from leads/soldering through a pc board to surface mount robot assembly–which is now basically beyond any feasible chance of efficient human, hand assembly. If Daisy's bro Hugo can precisely place a 1MM resistor on a solder blob and repeat every ½ second, well, Daisy can learn to exactly separate your MacBook's screen, extract the battery, and so on. Apple's going the right way with this. It's not Heathkit any more.
  17. jicon macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2004
    Toronto, ON
    Yeesh, that machine has 90 degree corners... not very Apple like.

    As others have said, Apple hardware needs to be much more serviceable. That will come to some degree with the next Mac Pro, but keyboards, trackpad, batteries, memory and SSD should all be easily serviceable parts in a laptop.
  18. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    I would settle for Apple being able to fix the computer without having to replace half of it for even the simplest repairs (2016 - 2018 MacBook Pro).
  19. DogHouseDub macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2007
    I thought Apple laid out a roadmap where laptops and iPads would be merging into a single, appliance-like hardware format, and MacOS and iOS would similarly become one. No? Maybe I dreamed it. Maybe I overheard it at a bar in Palo Alto.
  20. pike908 macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2015
    Boulder, CO
    Couldn't agree more! I am so SICK of wealthy consumers that drive SUVs, own boats, fly in private planes, own large homes that are heated/ac 24/7 -- especially in cold or hot climates, do luxury vacations at energy intensive locales -- skiing, wave the Green Flag because they drop something off occasionally at a recycling center....

    Oh not to mention all the plastics consumed in the modern lifestyle.
  21. urnotl33t macrumors member


    Jan 26, 2017
    Holly Springs, NC, USA

    Ok, great. I know it's not very in vogue, but people keep missing where their previous model/generation iPhone goes. The iPhone 7 or 8 that was purchased in the last 16 months didn't get thrown away. It was handed down to the kids, and used for another 2-3 years. Sure, that kid's iPhone 5S or 6 might be tossed but it likely is handed down to the next sibling in line. I would anticipate a lot of folks are aware they can take it to a store, or sell it on Craigslist to someone for parts, or better yet they give it to Grandma so she can "at least keep in touch".

    The idea of "creating less trash" has been the norm for a long long time, and Apple knows it. That's why we keep seeing the reports on Teens iPhone usage and future plans with that chart trickling upward. First-buyers of iPhones and iPads aren't throwing them away at upgrade time. Carriers also incentivize trade-ins with their upgrade plans, too.
  22. mi7chy macrumors 603


    Oct 24, 2014
    Is that a new name for glue factory?
  23. bjoswald macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2016
    Good for them. Absolutely nothing to complain about for this endeavor.
  24. mrex macrumors 68040


    Jul 16, 2014
    just to take more from customers (first the money, then the product) rather than giving us to choice to upgrade parts and use products longer.

    are they going to recycle all the clue they use?
  25. truthertech macrumors 68000

    Jun 24, 2016

    Ironically, one of the negative side effects of home and non-authorized repair places is that there is no mandatory recycling and much of their old parts end up in the waste stream. Regardless of your position on repairability of complex tech products, it's acknowledged that it's much better for the environment for Apple and its authorized repair centers to do the repairs as John Doe at home isn't taking the time to recycle that old battery, screen, etc.

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