An Apple plant in Hong Kong shreds iPhones into tiny pieces

This is what happens to an old, discarded iPhone.

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David (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

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A lot of iPhones have been sold since the original iPhone was released almost nine years ago. While some older devices are still being used or collected by Apple fans, most of them end up in the recycling heap. A Bloomberg article published on Wednesday goes into some of the details about the iPhone recycling process.

Essentially, iPhones given to Apple to recycle are torn to shreds. The company doesn’t reuse chips or other components for fear of feeding the secondary market with fake Apple products. The shredded material is processed; hazardous waste is dealt with properly, and materials such as gold, copper, aluminum and glass are recycled.

According to Bloomberg, Apple collected more than 40,000 tons of e-waste in 2014 from recycled devices. The company collects and recycles 85 percent by weight, exceeding the 70 percent standard set by the electronics recycling business.

Why this matters: Apple is approaching one billion iPhones sold. Apple is just as secretive about its recycling process as it is with its product development process, so perhaps this is a sign that the company takes the recycling of old devices seriously. Lisa Jackson, Apple’s head of environmental affairs, told Bloomberg that the company is investigating methods that will allow the company to reuse components instead of shredding them.

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