Apple Has Obtained Nearly $40 Million Worth of Gold From Recycled Devices

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Aside from water, gold is perhaps one of Mother Nature’s most precious, non-renewable, and intrinsically sought-after natural resources. But gold is also an integral compound found in most of our beloved tech toys — such as Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and Mac, as well. It’s even a safe haven in times of economic uncertainty, and as of this morning, the shimmering element is trading at about $1,230 USD per ounce on the world market.

That’s an impressive feat, to say the least, and perhaps one of the foremost reasons that Apple has been pushing its new environmental initiatives so aggressively. After all, the company knows well and good it can recycle those older, worn out devices — and that the precious resources housed within them can also be recycled, for cash, providing for the company with a few extra dollars to work with each year.


As a matter of fact, in Apple’s annual environmental report published last week, the company revealed that it’d recovered an estimated $40 million worth of gold via the recycling of old iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers in 2015. What’s more, in addition to the estimated 2,204 pounds of gold extracted, the Silicon Valley tech-giant’s recycling process allowed it to extract approximately 6,612 pounds of silver, 44,000 pounds of lead, over 4 million pounds of aluminum, and a whopping 23 million pounds of steel.

iDrop_GoldiPhone$$_02Now that’s a lot of precious resources!

As odd as it may seem, though, gold is actually an integral component built-into the “brains,” err, circuit boards, of consumer electronics products big and small. Aside from its monetary value, and its shimmering allure when worn on our fingers or hung around our necks, gold is a conducting metal which facilitates the electrical impulses that power our most beloved devices.

In fact, according to Fairphone, a leading technology and environmental activist group, the typical smartphone contains roughly 30mg of gold — or about 0.0001 ounces. Also, as you might expect, larger devices containing larger components — such as iPads, MacBooks and iMacs — contain significantly more than that.

And while those seemingly insignificant quantities of gold might seem unworthy of the effort to harvest them, they do add up when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands, or even millions of recycled units per year.

As Business Insider reported on the news, “At the current spot price of $1229.80 per ounce of gold, Apple recovered just under $40 million in gold from old phones and computers.”And, let us not forget, we can’t dismiss the silver, either — at an impressive $15 per ounce, it too is harvested from our old tech toys, and is valued at millions of additional dollars for Apple.

It’s kind of ironic to note that, at Apple’s March 21st “Let Us Loop You In” event, the Cupertino-company officially took the wraps off its latest environmental initiatives — a cornerstone among which is its new, awesome and efficient, high-tech robot, Liam. As Apple stated at the event, it will use Liam moving forward to dissect and properly categorize the internal components of used iPhones.

And come on, it’s even possible that Apple paid for that impressive technology — which can disassemble an iPhone 6 handset in just 11 seconds — with some of the money it pulled in last year from all that recycled gold, right?

Learn More: Apple’s App Store Has Gone Green in a Major Way

What are your thoughts about Apple’s latest environmental initiatives and how it extracts precious resources from its most popular products? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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