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Library: Apple's Aluminum Recycling Program
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Aluminum Plays Key Role in Apple’s Recycling and Sustainability Efforts

In 2015, Apple, Inc. collected about 90 million pounds of e-waste, diverting it from landfills. That’s’ over 70% of the weight of Apple products sold 7 years prior, and at the end of their life. Following disassembly, Apple was able to recover over 4.5 million pounds of aluminum, along with 2200 pounds of gold and some 56 million pounds of plastic, steel, glass, copper and other materials. (But only aluminum can be readily recycled time and time again with no deterioration in material properties!)

That’s just one of the fascinating conclusions drawn from Apple’s just-released Environmental Responsibility Report, covering FY 2015. The report focuses on the three priorities where Apple believes they can have the most impact on the environment:

  • Reduce impact on climate change by using renewable energy and driving energy efficiency in products and facilities
  • Conserve precious resources (recycling and improved material efficiency)
  • Pioneer the use of safer materials in products and processes


Aluminum plays a role in all three: it’s inherently safe and non-toxic, it’s readily recyclable, and it can contribute to a reduced impact on climate change. In the report, Apple cites their priority for aluminum smelted with hydroelectric power rather than fossil fuels, and the changes to their iPhone manufacturing processes that support increased use of recycled aluminum. As a result, they cite a reduction in the carbon footprint associated with the aluminum enclosure of the iPhone 6s by 50%, as compared with the previous generation.

The Report also highlights Apple’s use of renewable energy – now providing 100% of their U.S. demand – and introduces Liam, a robot they just developed, which will disassemble up to 1.2 million iPhones per year.

You can see the complete 50-page report here.

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