Many people return their old iPhones to Apple through the stores or by mail. Each of these old iPhones contains 25 milligrams of gold worth around $1. According to its Annual Environmental Responsibility Report Apple has declared that it extracted more than 1000 kg (around a ton) of gold from old iPhones. That’s around $43.6 million worth of gold according to the current rates of gold.
Does Apple extract gold from its old iPhones for money? Although Apple is extracting millions of dollars of gold from its old iPhones, money is not the purpose.
Gold is used in many smartphones for the wiring inside chips due to its excellent conductivity and malleability properties. Due to the small size, the wiring needs to be very thin and despite the thinness, the gold wiring can conduct signals very effectively. Gold is also highly resistant to corrosion.
Does it mean you should extract that gold from your old iPhone before returning it or discarding it? It’s hardly worth an effort and in fact, you may end up spending more money. As mentioned above, the worth of gold used in an average iPhone is $1.
But if you can extract gold from millions of old iPhones, then it’s totally a different matter.
So when Apple is expecting gold from old iPhones it is not for money, it is for recycling and that is why this fact as mentioned in the annual environmental responsibility report. Gold being retrieved from old and discarded iPhones means less gold to be mined and it means less adverse effect on the environment.
The report says, “We work hard to keep electronic devices from landfills so that the precious resources they contain can be reused. And we want to ensure that these devices are recycled properly so they don’t pose a threat to human health or the environment.”
It isn’t just gold that Apple is extracting from its old iPhone devices. Collectively, the company extracted nearly 90 million pounds of electronic waste through its recycling program; among these materials, 61 million pounds are reusable. The company was able to extract reusable materials such as steel, plastic, glass, aluminium, copper and silver.