Apple Uses Machine to Remove and Recycle Minerals from iPhones

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. dismantle / dɪsˈmæn tl / (v) – to take something apart

    Since we’re moving to a new home, I asked my husband to dismantle our bookshelf.

  2. pop out / pɒp aʊt / (phrasal) – to suddenly come out of something

    The toy popped out when I opened the box.

  3. refine / rɪˈfaɪn / (v) – to remove impurities from something

    The factory near my house refines sugar.

  4. undo / ʌnˈdu / (v) – to reverse or stop the effect of something

    I asked her to undo the ribbon on the present.

  5. raw material / rɔ məˈtɪər i əl / (n) – a material in its natural or unprocessed form

    Raw materials like gold and copper come from mines.


Read the text below.

Apple’s new machine dismantles iPhones to extract minerals that can be reused and recycled.

The machine, called Daisy, is 10 meters in length and has five robotic arms. To remove iPhone batteries, Daisy blasts the smartphones with freezing air then pops out the screws. The remaining components are sent to recyclers where the minerals are extracted and refined. The machine is able to extract and recycle 14 kinds of minerals, including lithium from iPhone batteries.

Daisy can take apart 200 iPhones per hour. In 2017 alone, it processed 1 million units.

According to Apple, Daisy is part of the company’s plan to become a closed-loop manufacturer, wherein the company reuses the same materials to create new products. By becoming a closed-loop manufacturer, Apple hopes that it will become less dependent on mining companies for sourcing minerals.

By using Daisy and recycling materials, Apple also helps undo the damage done by mining and the processing of raw materials. According to a company report, 32 kilograms of rare earth minerals were extracted after the company recycled 100,000 iPhones.

Apart from recycled lithium, some Apple products are already using recycled tin, cobalt, and other minerals.

Currently, Apple is considering sharing Daisy’s technology with other companies, particularly electric vehicle manufacturers.

However, a group advocating for electronics repair urged Apple to focus instead on creating products that can easily be repaired rather than replaced. This is due to the tech giant being notorious for creating difficult-to-repair products.

A mining industry group believes that only Apple will be able to perform such large-scale recycling efforts because not all companies have the resources to do so.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How do you think Daisy’s technology affects people’s view of Apple products? Explain.
• Do you think Apple should share Daisy’s technology with other companies? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What other electrical products should be recycled (e.g. laptops, TVs)? Why?
• Would you be interested to buy a product made out of recycled parts? Why or why not?