Apple’s mission to make the world a greater place means it’s more environmentally friendly than most Silicon Valley giants. So much so that it built an amazing iPhone disassembly robot called Liam that pulls apart old devices to salvage the parts for recycling.
Liam was introduced during Apple’s keynote on Monday, but your excitement for iPhone SE and the new iPad Pro may have distracted you. For a reminder of how excellent Liam is, check out Apple’s video below, which shows the robot in action.
Only Apple can make a video that cool about a disassembly robot, but what’s truly great isn’t the robot itself, which has been in development for nearly three years, according to Reuters — but rather Apple’s whole iPhone recycling plan.
As explained in the video, once an iPhone has been disassembled by Liam, its various parts are recycled so that they can “live on.” Liam pulls apart an iPhone 6 every 11 seconds, recovering aluminum, copper, tin, tungsten, cobalt, gold, and silver parts.
Liam is made up of 29 robotic modules, and it sits on a single site near Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino. It only disassembles iPhone 6 units sold in the U.S. for now, but a second unit is being installed in Europe later, Apple has confirmed.
If it works uninterrupted, Liam can pull apart a few million iPhones every year. That’s a small fraction of the 231 million smartphones Apple sold in 2015, but it’s certainly a promising start. And it comes at a time when gadget recycling is desperately needed.
“The world is awash in discarded electronic equipment, with the United States and China accounting for nearly a third of it,” Reuters reports. “Less than a sixth of global e-waste is properly recycled or made available for reuse, according to an April 2015 United Nations University report.”
Although Apple has been criticized for not making its products upgradeable — which in turn would allow them to live on for longer — the company has been taking great steps to minimize its impact on the environment and make its products more green.
Many of Apple’s facilities throughout the world are now powered solely by solar energy, and while it’s products cannot be upgraded easily, they are highly recyclable, and free from beryllium, mercury, lead, arsenic, PVC, and other materials.
You can find out more on Apple’s Environmental Responsibility page.