Apple's huge recycling push has been documented in its recently released annual environmental report (published Thursday). In it, the company noted that in 2015, some 61 million pounds of materials were reclaimed from recycled Apple devices, including $40 million worth of gold.
Apple indeed explains in the report (via Business Insider) that 61 million pounds of steel, aluminum, glass, and “other materials” were recovered from iOS and Mac devices recycled in 2015. Part of those “other materials” included 2,204 pounds of gold, which, at the current price of $1,229.80 per troy ounce, stands at just under a cool $40 million, Business Insider explains.
This gold, another publication, Fairphone, adds, comes from the devices' circuit boards “and other internal components.” The average smartphone apparently uses 30 milligrams of gold, and given the huge number of iPhones (and other devices) Apple recycles, this small amount is naturally going to add up.
Business Insider suggests that a small number of Apple Watch Edition models, which are made out of an estimated 50+ grams of 18-karat gold, could have been recycled, too. “But it's hard to imagine people who spent over $10,000 on an Apple Watch would turn it back to Apple for recycling in less than a year.” I agree.
During Apple's “Let us loop you in” event, back in March, the company showed of Liam: the robot it uses to recycle materials from iOS devices and Macs. At the time, Apple explained:
Liam automatically scans old iPhones, and then separates them into their component parts. The robot can scan the materials within the handset, instantly knowing the makeup of various parts as well as what they can be used for. Various components from within the iPhone can be used to make tools, solar panels, new iPhones, or other hardware.
Of course, Liam will be playing a huge part in collecting as much salvagable materials as possible from the devices it receives. For Apple's most recent environmental report, click this link.