Apple's claims about recycling and sustainability are kinda entirely nonsense

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/14/apples-claims-about-recyclin.html

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#2
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#3

WRT to hard drives this seems like smart security practice. As for the rest? it seems like a good way too prevent older models cannibalizing new sales.

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#4

Wait, so Apple’s old products are broken down into metal and glass which are then… recycled and re-used in other products?

How devious.

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#5

But did you see the many posts the other day on BB about all the new Apple Products? Who cares about old broke shit when the new pretties are out?

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#6

Right to repair is an environmental issue, and we all know how Apple feels about repair.

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#7

Come on now… we need some Apple outrage. It’s been a few days.

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#8

and if they weren’t shredded, BB would be all up in arms about how they were exposing user data to possible exposure. haters gonna.

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#9

I went into this article thinking “Yeah, I always sort of suspected…” only to find out… Apple actually recycles all the stuff that’s turned in for recycling.

So… yeah. Good.

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#10

“Do you really need to upgrade your smartphone every year?”

Does anyone actually do this? I could imagine the same sort of ultra-rich folks who buy a new car every year doing it, but I’d think it would be every 3-5 years for most people- and out of necessity rather than trends. Replacing an entire laptop if the only thing wrong is the battery sounds even more absurd.

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#11

I… like… genuinely don’t understand what Apple is being accused of here?

When you send something to be recycled, you expect its materials to be melted down / ground up to be used as new materials. You don’t expect printed materials you throw in the recycling to end up on a shelf at a thrift store.

Unless I have misunderstood something, peeps are still free to sell used Apple stuff, including selling or giving broken stuff to third-party repair places, if they want it. Apple themselves run programs like that, although I doubt they or anyone else could resell or reuse as many devices / parts as people dispose of every year.

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#12

I think the spike is about 23 to 27 months for the top tier upgrades. The way leasing works with phones is more like a subscription service. People become accustomed to a higher bill when paying the lease off. Combine that with cracked screens, crummy batteries, charging ports on the fritz, and handsets that can no longer be repaired or replaced by “insurance”, the user will simply opt for a new device and renew the loan.

Alternatively, people buying cheaper devices keep them longer!

#13

Apparently some people decided what they define as proper recycling and sustainability (refurbing and reselling of all old goods?) and decided that since Apple is, instead, re-using old glass, plastic, and metal to make new goods, they’re BAD PEOPLE.

It’s ill-informed, inflammatory clickbait. Apple’s leading the industry in environmentally-sustainable business practice, zero-waste production, and reuse of materials.

https://www.apple.com/environment/

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#14

Those finished components and complete computers represent a lot of energy that is going to waste if the still-usable component is being trashed to only get the base material they are made of.

If you are driving 80 miles to recycle a single aluminum can, you aren’t helping the environment.

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#15

I think the idea is reduce-reuse-recycle. Apple seems to be quite good at the latter, and is quite terrible at encouraging to first two. A much more environmentally sustainable model would be to prioritize reducing and reusing over recycling, but that cuts into Apple’s business model.

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#16

I think we assume that some do, but really it just seema exhausting. Perhaps the perpetual 22-27 year old post-college market which cares about being seen with the right things in the right place?

#17

Despite many corporate and government policies, wiping (functional) drives is perfectly effective. Not 17 wipes with alternating pseudo-random sequences, either. Just once. AFAIK, nobody has ever actually demonstrated recovery of any data from a hard-drive that had been overwritten. Not even “with an electron microscope”.

Failed drives can’t be overwriten and so should be shredded or otherwise physically destroyed, but they aren’t candidates for reuse anyway.

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#18

I don’t think that is a fair comparison at all. Used printer paper or notebooks has essentially zero reuse value and recycling is extremely efficient and low cost. Electronics have (potentially) a lot more value as electronics than shredded raw materials. If I drop off a TV at the recycling center, I don’t care if it gets sold at the thrift store, has its working parts used to replace other equipment, or is shredded and turned into raw materials as feedstock. The former are way more environmentally friendly than the latter, but depending on the cost and logistics may not be economically practical.

Computers are not much different. Yes, they potentially have data, but the majority of the device is not the primary storage. The storage can be wiped or replaced. Once that is done, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be possible to reuse instead of shred and recycle.

According to the article, Apple prohibits their contracted recyclers from doing this even though in some cases those recyclers would like to refurbish or part out the collected electronic waste, and that they do that as a standard practice when operating on behalf of other manufacturers than Apple.

Apple may think that data destruction policies are too complicated to expect their recycling contractors to handle properly to their desired degree of confidence. They may well be right but it is also a totally fair criticism to say they should go the other way.

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#19

When I get my phone or computer repaired, I want any faulty parts replaced with new ones, not old used ones with an unknown history that might be on the verge of failing themselves. Apple is doing the right thing by recycling them at the material level rather than at the component level.

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#20

It’s also possible that Apple is making this a requirement to ensure that their products are properly recycled, rather than, say, having a working home button stripped from an iPhone and then the rest tossed into a trash bin.

According to their last press event, they’re working toward a production pipeline that uses zero new materials. While there’s a fair amount of energy needed to convert shredded old goods into new ones, there’s also a limited amount of many of the materials that go into these devices, and a lot of it is not sourced in what you might call an ethical, humane, or environmentally-friendly manner. If they want to achieve the goal of eliminating newly-mined cobalt and tin (for example) in their hardware, re-capturing as much of it as humanly possible from their existing product inventory is absolutely essential.

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