Apple’s Liam The Robot Deconstructs iPhones for Recycling

Liam The Robot Recycles iPhones and Helps Consumers, and Apple, Help The Planet

Electronics are such a necessary and useful part of our modern daily life, but they can be tough on the environment. There are a lot of metals used in the construction of smartphones and other devices that have no business being in a landfill. To further complicate the matter, electronics recycling is not nearly as prevalent as electronic devices. In our latest post in our #WasteNotWantNot series, we are looking at Liam, a robot created to change how electronics are recycled.

Apple Making Strides to Close the Loop

Apple unveiled a robot they have named, Liam, that can dismantle old iPhones and efficiently remove metals that can be reused or recycled. This is a game changer that keeps these nonrenewable resources in use.

“This allows us to recover the materials, high-quality materials, and reintroduce them into the global supply,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives.

What Liam does is put the once unattainable goal of zero waste within reach.

Putting the Theory into Practice

The reality of smartphones and electronic devices is that something newer and better is constantly coming out and people upgrade their gear. Apple and their competitors have been accused of turning their products around quickly and encouraging consumers to put down their  devices which are in perfect working order to trade up to what’s new. This practice can have some serious environmental ramifications.

Recycling discarded electronics can salvage materials that still have some life left in them. Liam, the recycling robot, is good in concept and is a step in the right direction. How traded in iPhones get to Liam is not clear.  What Apple has made clear is their intention to recycle iPhones and repurpose the materials in new Apple items.

The drawback is that not all iPhones find their way back to Apple. A number of retailers accept iPhones as part of trade in programs. While Apple’s iPhone makes up a large segment of the smartphone business, there are other phones available.

Liam is a step in the right direction, and if Apple can create such a robot it is likely similar robots will come onto the scene soon. The more electronic devices recycled the better.

To learn more about Apple’s Liam check this out. This is a huge stride in terms of closing the loop, but there is still some progress to be made. Electronics recycling rates are so low any progress is good progress. We were really excited to hear about this development. We plan to keep an eye on Apple’s Liam and look forward to seeing how this recycling robot impacts the industry.


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