Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Steve Jobs: Apple's Product Recycling Efforts

Apple started recycling in 1994 and today they operate recycling programs in countries where most of their products are sold. Apple fares very well when assessed using Dell's method of measuring recycling, (given a seven year product lifetime, the percentage of the total weight recycled each year compared to the total weight of what was sold seven years earlier).

Apple recycled 13 million pounds of e-waste in 2006, which is equal to 9.5% of the weight of all products Apple sold seven years earlier. This percentage grew to 13% in 2007, and to 20% in 2008. By 2010, they had forecast recycling 19 million pounds of e-waste per year — nearly 30% of the product weight sold seven years earlier.

All the e-waste Apple collects in North America is processed in the US, and nothing is shipped overseas for disposal. They carefully review “environmental fate” submissions from each vendor, so they know how raw materials are handled at the end of the recycling process. They hold their recycling vendors to the highest environmental standards in the industry. In addition to annual compliance audits, they also review the performance of their downstream vendors. Apple's vendors must comply with all applicable health and safety laws, and they do not allow the use of prison labor at any stage of the recycling process.

Producers must also take responsibility for the design and material choices that create the product in the first place. It is these choices that fundamentally determine the weight and recycling value of material waste at the end of a product’s life. The iMac is a world-class example of material efficiency, having shed 60% of its weight since its debut in 1998. Their designs use aircraft-grade aluminum, stainless steel and high-grade plastics that are in high demand from recyclers, who recover and resell these raw materials for use in other types of products. Few of Apple's competitors do the same.

All of Apple’s retail stores take back unwanted iPods for environmentally friendly disposal free of charge. As an incentive, they offer customers a 10% discount on a new iPod when they recycle their old iPods at Apple stores.

Apple will also pay owners of iPhones, Macs and even PCs. Apple offers a variety of recycling options, including free pickup and disposal of any brand of computer or display through WeRecycle!.

Users who own an iOS device that have a laptop or desktop computer from any manufacturer can obtain credit from Apple. Products that qualify for reuse (ie have monetary value)receive an Apple Gift Card equivalent to its fair market value as determined by PowerON.

Apple is a leader in innovation and engineering, and they applied these same talents to become greener.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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