Daisy the iphone eater
Meet the machine that rips up iphones for recycling
You might be surprised to learn that Apple has a machine designed specifically to tear iphones apart, but it’s true. At Apple’s factory in Austin, Texas, and the company’s European distribution centre, you’ll find a robot called Daisy.
At first glance, Daisy looks like a machine that would put together an iphone on the assembly line. Instead, it sorts through nine different iphone models and separates all of their valuable parts for recycling. It’s all automated, and Daisy can strip 200 iphones in just an hour.
Based on years of research and design, Daisy removes and sorts useful components so that Apple can recover materials that normal recycling practices leave behind.
Typically, electronic devices are ‘shredded’, which can contaminate each metal and mean more smelting, refining and other expensive (and polluting) processes have to be completed. With Daisy, Apple can remove the most valuable components quickly and without damaging them so they can be melted down and used again more easily.
This is particularly important for recovering the rare earth magnets that drive the iphone’s speaker system. If an iphone is shredded, these neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium magnets cling to other metals and have to be discarded in the refining process.
All of this is particularly important because mining these materials – as well as tin and cobalt that are used in the solder and batteries respectively – is incredibly damaging to the environment. Mining produces huge amounts of carbon dioxide, so the more of these materials that can be recovered from old devices, the less environmental impact each new iphone has.
The ultimate goal is to create a ‘closed-loop’ system, where new iphones are made entirely from the recycled materials of old devices. With Daisy’s help, Apple are a step closer to their goal.