Target: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.
Goal: Abandon “full destruction policy” in Apple’s recycling stream and adopt true sustainability practices.
Apple has come out with a new trick to fool the world into thinking they’re environmentally responsible– his name is Liam, and he’s a 29-armed recycling robot. In a snazzy promotional video introducing Liam, Apple shows how he can dismantle an old iPhone in 11 seconds, with the pieces — screws, SIM cards, and other odds and ends — then sold to recyclers. This is all part of Apple’s Renew program. Granted, creating an initiative, and a robot, with the intention of taking responsibility for the end-life of products is a very responsible step for a company, and more manufacturers should be doing this. However, a closer look finds Apple falling quite short in terms of actual waste prevention.
Unsurprisingly, the bottom line comes first for this company, far above environmental responsibility. Basically, in the interest of protecting trade secrets, Apple keeps a “full destruction policy” with their recycling partners, meaning that perfectly reusable components get destroyed. This does somewhat defeat the purpose of recycling, though it helps Apple keep decommissioned or counterfeit iPhones off the market.
Apple jealously guarding its product features is quite an old tune by this point. What more could we expect from a company that would sue Samsung over “design patents,” including rounded corners, tapered edges, and a home button. Apple has a monopoly over their devices and their operating system, which is why they’re able to get away with shenanigans like higher prices, planned obsolescence, and ancillary products that are unique to the devices they serve (iPhone and Mac chargers, for example, which can’t be used for anything else). All of this creates a lot of waste. And so does Liam, despite what Apple would like its sustainability-conscious customers to think.
When it comes to electronics, it’s always best to preference reusing and reducing before recycling. Don’t get lured in by the new iPhone — keep your old device alive as long as possible and when you’re truly done with it, see if someone else might want it. But since the majority of consumers aren’t likely to adopt this mindset at the drop of a hat, someone needs to tell Apple to do better. Sign this petition to let Apple know that people are paying attention. If they aren’t willing to truly commit to more sustainable practices, their profits might actually suffer one day.
Dear Mr. Cook,
I am writing to let you that I am unimpressed by your newest recycling initiative, Liam the robot. Although your creation of Liam and Renew demonstrates a level of responsibility for the end-life of your products, which is admirable, I have a feeling that business interests are really driving your actions.
Your decision to impose a “full destruction policy” on your recycling partners shows that recycling for the sake of waste prevention is not your chief concern — perhaps, rather, you are interested in having the products back so that your closely coveted designs don’t escape into the market in knockoff phones or other products.
I understand that a business such as yours has a bottom line. However, if you continue with the wasteful practices you currently implement, including planned obsolescence, ancillary products that serve only one device, and now this attempt at a recycling program, you are going to lose customers who care about the planet. Put Liam to use doing some real good. Abandon your “full destruction policy” and truly commit to the principles of reuse, reduce, and then recycle.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: nickparkash