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Desktops (Apple) Iphone Portables (Apple) Apple Hardware Technology

Apple Forces Recyclers To Shred All iPhones and MacBooks (vice.com) 224

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple released its Environmental Responsibility Report Wednesday, an annual grandstanding effort that the company uses to position itself as a progressive, environmentally friendly company. Behind the scenes, though, the company undermines attempts to prolong the lifespan of its products. Apple's new moonshot plan is to make iPhones and computers entirely out of recycled materials by putting pressure on the recycling industry to innovate. But documents obtained by Motherboard using Freedom of Information requests show that Apple's current practices prevent recyclers from doing the most environmentally friendly thing they could do: Salvage phones and computers from the scrap heap. Apple rejects current industry best practices by forcing the recyclers it works with to shred iPhones and MacBooks so they cannot be repaired or reused -- instead, they are turned into tiny shards of metal and glass. "Materials are manually and mechanically disassembled and shredded into commodity-sized fractions of metals, plastics, and glass," John Yeider, Apple's recycling program manager, wrote under a heading called "Takeback Program Report" in a 2013 report to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. "All hard drives are shredded in confetti-sized pieces. The pieces are then sorted into commodities grade materials. After sorting, the materials are sold and used for production stock in new products. No reuse. No parts harvesting. No resale."
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Apple Forces Recyclers To Shred All iPhones and MacBooks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2017 @09:30PM (#54273675)

    This is, has been, and continues to be a problem. It's easy to blame Apple but it's an industry wide issue. It's so much more profitable to sell a new product than to repair and sell a used one. Also the industry's business model is to dump the old and get the new latest product. This model will not last long if the market is full of old products. So it's not surprising that they rather destroy than repair and sell.
    The solution lies on the user. At some point we have to take blame on how the industry functions. Apple would not be the mammoth it is if we did not buy and support their business model.
    What Apple is doing is to make a show of their recycling effort so that most people don't feel bad about getting a new Apple product but they can still continue to sell and make the most profits. Make no mistake profits will win over recycling.
    To fix this, we could pressure the company to reform their ways by buying the competition's products that follow more sustainable practices. Not likely since they are so good at selling and there probably isn't a direct replacement. Or we can pressure our government representatives to do something about it. A good candidate solution since we have slowly increased what companies must do to protect the environment. We are not at the best point but we are getting there. We need to add pressure to our reps to continue. What they've done is not enough.
    The best thing we can do is to resist the pressure to upgrade our gadgets. No we don't need to upgrade every year and no we don't need the new shiny gadget that will be put in the dump in a few months. The fix starts with us.

    • Why blame Apple when you can blame Apple customers who feel they need a new model every year?

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @08:27AM (#54275457)

        Most users of Apple products that I know personally do not buy each new model. And the one that I know does, always sells his old one used. In fact, I can't think of anyone who would just give a working device to Apple when buying a new one. The resale value of Apple hardware almost always makes the bother of finding a buyer worth it.

      • Why blame Apple when you can blame Apple customers who feel they need a new model every year?

        Your meme is pretty lame. I still see a lot of iPhone 5's in use, and even some 4's. On the other hand, I know several Android phone users who get new phones whenever they read what the hot new model is.

        • There was a report from somewhere last year that when the new iphone models are announced that the number of accidentally broken or lost phones increased. It was surmised that perhaps this occured subconsciously so that there would be an excuse to get a new one. Possibly this applies to Android?
          http://brobible.com/life/artic... [brobible.com]

          • There was a report from somewhere last year that when the new iphone models are announced that the number of accidentally broken or lost phones increased. It was surmised that perhaps this occured subconsciously so that there would be an excuse to get a new one. Possibly this applies to Android? http://brobible.com/life/artic... [brobible.com]

            Very possibly could be related. People are strange.

    • Just to put your solution into real world perspective, where real people live.

      Recently a certain auto maker was the front page occupant of many newspapers for a huge diesel scandal (I bet you can't guess who!)
      You know something? I haven't seen so many goddamned Golfs and Jettas on the road since

      • Just to put your solution into real world perspective, where real people live.

        Recently a certain auto maker was the front page occupant of many newspapers for a huge diesel scandal (I bet you can't guess who!) You know something? I haven't seen so many goddamned Golfs and Jettas on the road since

        So the coalroller crowd has checked in.

    • The best thing we can do is to resist the pressure to upgrade our gadgets. No we don't need to upgrade every year and no we don't need the new shiny gadget that will be put in the dump in a few months. The fix starts with us.

      I hate to say it, but I think we've already lost this battle.

      I run a Galaxy Note 3, and have done so since about its release date back in Sept 2013. For me, it's flawless - 4 monster CPUs, a great OLED screen, thermometer, barometer, hygrometer, great camera (with 4k video), LTE/MiMo

      • The best thing we can do is to resist the pressure to upgrade our gadgets. No we don't need to upgrade every year and no we don't need the new shiny gadget that will be put in the dump in a few months. The fix starts with us.

        I hate to say it, but I think we've already lost this battle.

        I run a Galaxy Note 3, and have done so since about its release date back in Sept 2013. For me, it's flawless - 4 monster CPUs, a great OLED screen, thermometer, barometer, hygrometer, great camera (with 4k video), LTE/MiMo, running CM13 (Android 6.0.1). I have no reason or desire to upgrade. None. I'll still be using this phone for 3 or 4 more years unless I break or lose it.

        Here's the trick: I'm on my third replacement battery.

        This behavior costs the incumbent manufacturers money, and they have put a stop to it by gluing batteries into devices. They all do it now. It's disgusting. And we allow it. And don't be surprised if they start chipping and authenticating the batteries in the future.

        This is the battleground, and very few people seem to understand it. Gluing batteries into phones encourages users to replace them at least every two years (as they typically start just long enough to last a day, and after two years, can't do that anymore). Replacement is mandatory, for many users, after 3. Forget about 5, 6, or 10 years.

        The practice should be illegal as it is a huge waste of resources, recycling or not.

        If Samsung would stop overcharging their batteries, they'd last longer. That's a fact.

        My iPad 2 at 5 years old and HEAVY use daily, still has nearly 100% of the battery life it did brand new, nor has the charge time changed in any noticeable way.

        My iPhone 4s (although I don't use it anymore), went into the drawer with no appreciable battery life or charge time difference from new.

        My current iPhone 6 Plus, going on 3 years now (I think), still lasts about 4 days of general use, and again, I haven't noticed a

    • by Kevoco ( 64263 )

      Market forces: I can "trade-in" my iPhone for a pittance (because it will be shredded) or I can sell it, working or not, for more (because it's worth more as a phone and not as a pile of shreddings)

  • Imagine that (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2017 @09:30PM (#54273689)

    Apple is incredibly anti-consumer and anti-environment to milk tiny amounts of additional profit. I am so shocked...

    • Imagine this... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Excelcia ( 906188 )

      Well, how about imagine this scenario. Let's say Apple's recyclers are allowed to recycle components. NAND flash chips from all sorts of devices are collected - how long before some very embarrassing, sensitive, or even damaging information thought deleted from someone's phone is recovered from one of those chips?

      While I am no fan of Apple nor their business practices, their current recycling method represents the best they can do while taking the precautions they need to take to ensure safety. They can'

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 20, 2017 @10:22PM (#54273947)

        Unless they've been blatantly lying to everyone, the non-volatile memory is encrypted.

      • ... do /you/ know how to ensure every bit of data is cleaned off your phone at the flash level?

        No, but Apple does (so do others [protectstar.com]); they could easily bake this functionality into their devices.

        But ignore this for a moment, shall we? The plain fact of the matter is most phones are just not that interesting. A factory reset is enough for the vast majority of users.

    • by MouseR ( 3264 )

      You can install bleeding edge OS version (iOS 10.3 in this case) on a five year old iPhone (or iPod Touch) 5.

      Try that on another smart phone, regardless of brand.

      Yes, consumer is first at Apple. Because they dont serve the business well and even those old phones can still make iTunes purchase.

    • You are apparently unaware of the Apple Refurbished page. Devices that can be refurbished and resold are sold. Devices that cannot be refurbished economically are recycled. They currently list products in every major category (Mac, Macbook, iPad, iPhone, iPod, AppleWatch, AppleTV) on their refurbished page https://www.apple.com/shop/bro... [apple.com]

      Not every device can or should be repaired. I've returned devices where the exact fault couldn't be determined. It is very much pro consumer to shred that machine instea
    • Apple is incredibly anti-consumer and anti-environment to milk tiny amounts of additional profit. I am so shocked...

      Yeah, that's why they keep winning customer satisfaction and environmental awards.

  • Green Policies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @09:45PM (#54273779)
    Green policies are for PR, not for everyday use.
  • Data Destruction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Thank you Apple for ensuring the data on my old phone won't be compromised.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @10:10PM (#54273901) Journal

    This doesn't change anything. The people who buy into Apple mindshare will continue to buy Apple, and the rest of us will continue to repurpose old hardware for new roles and pretty much ignore the shiny trendy things. And there will be enough Apple fans for Apple to continue to make boatloads of money. And many of those fans will be all hyped up to save the earth and recycle everything and battle global warming, while not even recognizing the irony of throwing away an $800 phone every 18 months.

    But we will, apparently, continue to argue about it.

    • by Brannon ( 221550 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:29PM (#54274185)

      Apple doesn't do anything to prevent anyone from reselling or giving away an iPhone or Mac--there is a thriving reseller market for both. Macs hold their value much better than PCs do, for example; specifically because they last longer. Apple itself has a refurbishment program that resells pre-owned Macs & iPhones.

      This is just about what happens when Apple sends some old device to an authorized recycler. Should Apple allow that recycler to piece out individual parts and sell them on a gray market? possibly selling hard drives with customer data still on them? Or should Apple insist that they shred the devices and recycle them.

      Reasonable people could disagree about which strategy is more responsible--but in the grand scheme of things to get pissed about, this is pretty lame. Do you have any idea how many electronic devices don't get recycled at all? Who recycles your old cable box? Who recycles your shoes?

      It's increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Slashdot and Breitbart--the same sort of manufactured outrage exist on both.

      • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

        The last three of my MBPs are all still in use with other members of my extended family. The oldest is now over six years old but, apart from the mechanical hard disk, is still reasonably performant. It plays Minecraft just fine.

        I'm on my third iPad. Both of the previous two are in use by my parents.

        People seem much happier to accept hand-me-down Apple gear than PCs. That's probably a function of price of new Macs and perceived desirability. Making a computer attractive for second hand buyers is probably th

    • I'd rather have 1 new MacBook than 10 old Thinkpads.
  • Recycling data (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I really like when my personal data gets recycled and reused, by someone else!!!

  • that I didn't replace in 2 years when the hardware got flaky/crashy. The 5 overheats. A lot. I'm an Android guy because for $250 bucks I can buy a nice phone. But my kid's stuck on Apple because of iMessage (which is less a messaging app and more a sort of mini social network). Anyway, ain't nobody recycling the iPhone 5.
  • Load of BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:17PM (#54274141)

    Apple doesn't force anybody to do anything here. People hired by Apple are expected to do what Apple hired them to do. Apple refurbs and resells tons of devices. what it can't it recycles. Every junkyard in the world crushes tons of cars with usable parts. there simply comes a point when they are not worth the work required to reclaim them.

  • As much as people are upset about this there is a very logical solution to this, get in the recycling business. I imagine that a lot of people out there can't just get in the recycling business themselves but they have the choice on how they recycle their aged and/or broken electronics. You don't have to send your old MacBook to Apple, find a recycler that will not simply shred it into confetti. A question comes to mind, how did we get ourselves in this interesting situation?

    Here's a problem that I see.

    • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

      What parts in an iPad 2 are worth reclaiming? Nobody wants a tablet with iPad 2 vintage components in it. Also, getting them out of the device undamaged would probably be less efficient than shredding it and sorting the materials afterwards.

      • "Nobody wants a tablet with iPad 2 vintage components in it. "

        If that were true then Apple would not feel any motivation to specify that they be destroyed. If Apple did not see them as potentially valuable to competitors then they'd do nothing since it would avoid any friction from potential recycling contractors and also avoid any possibility of bad press if this contractual obligation got out. My guess is that there were many people at Apple that did this math but perhaps did not anticipate all the fact

  • Reuse materials (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blocked_lol ( 4634223 ) on Thursday April 20, 2017 @11:38PM (#54274207)

    It stands to reason, though, that if they want to make phones from reused materials then they have to strip everything down to the raw materials so they can reuse them, no?

    > After sorting, the materials are sold and used for production stock in new products. No reuse. No parts harvesting. No resale.

    Sounds like they're recycling the raw materials, just not the parts. Not 100% ideal, but it beats them winding up in a landfill.

  • Hamper reusing older equipment anywhere in the world by forcing recyclers to make it unusable - shredding it into small pieces.

    Corporate rape, goes the same route as this:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/al... [npr.org]

       

  • Apple shreds theirs, while Samsung prefers to burn theirs.
  • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @12:06AM (#54274295)

    If the devices can be repaired or reused, people wouldn't be sending them to recyclers.

    "Grandstanding effort" indeed, just not grandstanding by Apple.

    • If the devices can be repaired or reused, people wouldn't be sending them to recyclers.

      Rubbish!

      (see what I did there?) But seriously, you are just making stuff up. People throw out all sorts or working or repairable stuff.

  • So let me get this straight, people turn stuff in to apple and and sends them to a recycler to have them recycled to for some contract price. Why in gods name would apple let them profiteer by reselling them instead? That would be nuts.
    • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In that order.

      I get where Apple is coming from. If the entire point is to prevent the reselling of used parts for profit, thus creating fraud among a market where truly validated refurbished parts exist, then the solution is to just mark them. Mark them with a logo (embossed, laser etched, etc) so that the end consumer knows willingly that the case is not new and not refurbished, rather reused as-is in current condition. I promise, there would be a market for those parts in 3rd world

  • Apple does a good job to prevent some advertisement company or other cybercriminal gang to reuse data you left on the hard disk of broken notebook or flash memory of your phone.

  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Friday April 21, 2017 @01:03AM (#54274407)

    Anyone who thinks Apple cares about recycling is completely blind to what is really happening behind the scenes.

    Not only Apple does not recycle crap, they also are actively spending money via lobbying to kill stuff like the right to repair bill which would help independent repair shops to fix iPhones, Macs and whatnot and prolong their lives.
    The "official repair" Apple does usually ammounts to throwing away easily repairable units to force costumers to buy refurbished models or newer ones, and they are constantly pushing towards strategies to block independent repair efforts with stuff like error 53 and the more recent software blocking of fingerprint reader replacement on the iPhone 7.

    With crap like eliminating "legacy ports" like the headphone jack due to them being "corageous", they've effectively pushed more bluetooth headsets and more dongles into the market which has even more toxic and non-recyclable materials that will be purchased in greater number and will be replaced or lost in a more constant rate, instead of regular headphones that requires less electronic parts.

    But the company couldn't care less as long as they are making truckloads of money, which is something most corporations do anyways. It's just damn insulting that they keep trying to push this bullshit and that parts of the press swallow it whole. F*cking predatory company that keeps feeding on public misinformation.

    It's known that there are no easy ways of disassembling and reusing old phones component parts to make new ones because it just costs too much more to recover whatever materials were used, but they have no qualms on feeding on regular costumers lack of knowledge on this to paint themselves as a good company that is trying to do "something" about it. Protip for those who don't know about this: it'll result in nothing, and they already know it. It's a token effort. There are no good ways of harvesting raw materials for eWaste to make new components in a financially viable manner, because if there was everyone would be doing it.

    Currently, anyone that is well informed or an active part of the problem know full well that the best way of generating less waste is to use electronics for as long as possible. If smartphone companies really wanted to generate less electronic waste, they'd change release schedules and development time to force consumers to keep their damn phones for a longer period of time, plus do as much as possible to keep older units working instead of making them useless after a certain ammount of OS updates. Another way is to make the architecture more open and standardized so that electronics can be used in multiple ways - like old desktops and laptops that you can install some Linux distro and use as an HTPC or something. Of course, Apple stuff is the harderst type of hardware to do something like that.

    The only thing Apple really has on their favor is that even older laptops and desktops retain some value in the used market, and some of it's users keeps their stuff even years after they purchased it. But make no mistake. If Apple could find a way to avoid that without a huge fanbase backlash, they would.

    • by garote ( 682822 )

      So let me get this straight ... we have tens of thousands of these devices going into the trash and it's the industry's fault, for making a shinier new phone available each year, instead of a "more responsible" five year or ten year delay?

      Not a word for the besotted user who donates their old phone to a relative, or a friend, or sells it, or just plain gives it away, in order to get the shinier one with the force-touch or the better battery or the slightly different size?

      Smartphones are hot stuff right now.

  • Not only do they want to make parts that much harder to work with, they also want to make sure that the parts remain out of reach.

  • Apple has a recycling and reuse link on their website. Some countries directed to Brightstar who runs some programs. Functional working devices get a higher price at appropriate market rates. Compare to Gazelle or others. The working devices are typically resold for customer reuse in as is condition. Apple also refurbs and resells products e.g. Certified pre-owned(CPO). Scrap from damaged non functioning devices appears to be the scope of not reusing. Guessing Apple wants to ensure no bad parts circulating
    • by garote ( 682822 )

      I'm sorry; you're just taking this news too reasonably. Get with the program here: Apple is sending hired goons to our houses to literally grab our old phones out of our hands and grind them into a fine spicy powder, forcing us to go out and buy them again. Their 100% recyclable materials and 100% renewable energy stance is mere posturing and they are no better than Halliburton, Shell Oil, and Blackwater. Boo, hiss, et cetera.

  • I remember buying wireless cards from a seller on ebay (10-15 years ago). Those were Netgear cards (PCMCIA mostly) and they would work most of the time but fail regularly (the longer the more often...).

    Turns out that the guy had sources in Asia who literally pulled these out of trash-bins at some recycler.

    Netgear refused to honor any kind of warranty or responsibility for those cards.

    I believe, the best way to reduce waste is to carefully consider if you actually need the product in question - and start fro

  • The summary says this specifically with respect to hard drives, which actually makes some sense, especially in the age of SSDs.

    I don't know how many articles I've read here on the subject of recycling computers and the number of commenters who have said the only way to do it is to take the platters out and drive a nail through them and such.

    Would you not expect Apple to do the same?

    SSDs are even trickier because you can't do something like the secure wipe procedures where you overwrite with 1s and then 0s r

  • I wonder what role the doctorine of first sale applies. That is, does apple's rules apply to what happens to the bits and pieces after sale?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Posting anon as I'm a certified Apple repair technician. But I hate them. So much.

    The design choices they continue to make with each generation are getting progressively more anti-consumer for no good reason. Glued-in batteries. Keyboards that are part of the chassis and require full disassembly of the entire laptop plus $150 for the part. When keyboards and batteries are some of the most commonly-replaced items in the laptop. Soldered in memory, which is unnecessary... no Apple laptop is thinner than a SOD

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