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Apple Bites Into Sustainability With New Robot

Apple Inc is trying to influence the way electronics are recycled with a robot named ‘Daisy.’

Daisy disseminates its iPhone so that minerals can be recovered and reused and is part of a plan to become a ‘closed-loop’ manufacturer that does not rely on the mining industry.

It’s an aggressive goal that some industry analysts have said is impossible, especially given the increased global demand for electronics, but it could change the future of product lines across the industry.

Apple’s Daisy at work (Photo: Apple)

‘We’re not necessarily competing with the folks who mine,” Lisa Jackson, the company’s head of environment, policy and social, told Reuters.

‘There’s nothing for miners to fear in this development.’

Inside an unassuming warehouse in the outskirts of Austin, Texas, Daisy breaks down iPhones so that 14 minerals – lithium included – can be extracted and recycled.

(Photo: Apple)

Daisy – less than 20 yards in length – uses a four-step process to remove the iPhone battery with a blast of -80 Celsius degree air. The robot then pops out screws and modules, including the haptic module that creates the phone’s vibrating feature.

The components are then sent to recyclers for the minerals to be extracted and refined.

Daisy is quite the workhorse – she can tear apart 200 iPhones per hour, with Apple stating they chose the phone to be the first of its products to be destroyed by the robot because of its popularity.

(Photo: Apple)

Apple is considering sharing the robots technology with other companies, including electric automakers. But Daisy does have sceptics – including some in the tech industry who want Apple to focus on repairable projects – not just recyclable ones.

Daisy is the latest eco-friendly development from Apple, who is already using recycled tin, cobalt and rare earths in some of its products. They plan on extending that list.

Just last month, Apple purchased the first commercial batch of carbon-free aluminium from a joint venture between Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) and Alcoa (AA.N).

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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