Not a lot of people would ever think about what happens to their broken iPhone. We are so busy with the new one we get we don’t ever stop to think about where is our broken one going. Now we all can agree on this that there are a lot of people that buy iPhones, most just upgrade to the newest version just because it is the latest version. So, there are a lot of unused phones just laying around, and we never thought about what happens to them did we ever?
Now, for those that are curious about that there is a facility in Austin Texas where you will find a huge number of old/broken iPhones that are not going to be in anyone’s pockets. From iPhone 5 to 8 plus the devices are there for one thing only, they are there for Daisy. Who is Daisy? Well, Daisy is the wonderful new robotic disassembly system that Apple has designed and made. All the raw material in the phones that can be salvaged Daisy will separate them from the iPhone, and then it is bye, bye phone.
Daisy covers a lot of the needs that the company had for salvation and recycling parts from older iPhone models much more efficiently. The main purpose of Daisy is to separate the iPhone into isolated parts so that the employees send off to the company’s partners for processing. Because of Daisy, the product doesn’t have to go to an industrial shredder. A lot of the valuable materials are recycled through this new process.
According to Lisa P. Jackson, Apple’s VP of environment, policy, and social initiative, and former EPA Administrator.
“There’s no sense in recycling a phone the same way one would recycle a car or a toaster…”
The VP gave a statement on the process by saying that,
“The first step is to crush the glass than we sell the aluminum into the scrap aluminum market, and whatever is left is shredded into a pile of plastic and metal.”
She went on to say that the plastic and metal saved has some value to it. However, it cannot be used in their electronic products, so the values isn’t that high.
The company doesn’t like the shredding method because it is almost impossible to salvage the speakers of the iPhone form that scrap and they are made from a rare earth magnet, so they do come around quite expensive. The magnets used in the speakers in the iPhone are made from a combination of substances called “neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium.”
The hard part about salvaging these valuable metals is that they tend to get smelted during the shredding/refining process. Since these metals are exported they cost a hefty amount to the company, not only that but these metals are found in China where there has been an illegal mining epidemic going on making these metals to come by legally even more difficult. So as a business practice this would be quite the set back if they were not able to recycle the magnets from their broken products.
Apple has been working on a robotic solution for their problem since 2016; the company obviously wanted to make their production costs more feasible by recycling some of the more expensive materials that they use in their products. The secondary purpose of the machine would be to completely destroy all the Apple exclusive parts such as their processors so that they would not end up in other phones.
The first model was called Liam, and it was around 100 foot in length. The system consisted of almost 29 individual robots that would disconnect specific parts of the Apple products. Being the first design, it is way inferior to Daisy. Whereas Liam had around 29 separate robots to disassemble the iPhones, Daisy has five robotic arms for the job and is around 30 feet long. Daisy can dissemble nearly 200 iPhones in an hour if run to its full capacity.On top of that Daisy can dismantle nine different iPhone models whereas Liam was designed only for the iPhone 6. Another thing worth noting is that Daisy doesn’t need any additional tools or downtime to switch in-between iPhone versions.
It takes around two minutes for one iPhone to go in and out of Daisy. There are four stations that the iPhone has to go through and after that has been done the part are ready for shipping. Here’s how the whole process goes, the iPhone is placed on to the conveyor belt with the help of a hopper where there is a camera that immediately recognizes the model of the iPhone and studies its orientation. An arm is ready to pick up the product, and only the face-down iPhones are picked up by this arm while the face-up ones go round angina. After that, the de-manufacturing process of the product begins.The first thing that Daisy does is that it takes another arm which rotates the phone so that the optical sensors can see if there is any noticeable damage to the phone. Next, the screen is taken off and dropped into a bin, after that Daisy’s other arms take the phone to the next three stations where its battery is removed. The next step is getting all the screws out that are holding the phone together. Finally, the last arm shakes the phone to see if there are any parts falling off or not then after that through a preprogrammed setting all the main components are removed safely, and at the end of it, all the steel in the Apple logo and the camera ring is removed as well. The empty case is dropped into to a bin, for its specific model, and the metal and plastic is separated by melting the plastic. And in a matter of minutes, Daisy completely dismantles the iPhone.