Previously these planetary resources were to a great extent, locked into the iPhone – as they are in billions of pieces of electronics equipment. But now comes Liam, a system that deconstructs the iPhone at the end of its life to identify parts and remove them so that, where possible, they can be reused. This extends to the extraction of precious metals such as cobalt, lithium, gold, copper, platinum and silver from batteries, cameras and PCBs.
The system has been three years in development according to Charissa Rujanavech, who works in environmental initiatives at Apple.
I don’t know how effective Liam is and it may be that Apple is doing a little bit of recycling and trying to derive a lot of marketing benefit from that effort.
Is there a Liam for the iPad and for Apple computers? What if Apple were to share this system, through the likes of equipment assembler Foxconn, with the entire consumer equipment industry.
But at least Liam for the iPhone is a step in the right direction and its shows that Apple understands that consumerism must learn to coexist with environmental considerations.
This was something a certain Qualcomm executive lacked back in 2013 when he was asked about recycling by an young student at the IMEC Technology Forum in 2013.
The Qualcomm executive had been more or less crowing that the two-year equipment cycle – born of Moore’s Law and handed down to the public by the mobile network operators – was a license for Qualcomm to print money. But when asked what the company had done about recycling the executive seemed to be at a loss to understand the question (see Brussels Calling: Qualcomm wins in a wasteful industry). It was left to the questioner to be more specific about what he meant. What is Qualcomm doing to design phones and chips so that component elements and materials are more easily recyclable, and thus mitigate the waste of throwing away a phone every other year?
Apple at least now has an answer to that question.
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