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Apple Launches E-Waste Recycling Initiative

Many of us have changed our mentality (along with our daily routines) in order to act in an environmentally friendly manner, and the global push to become greener has seen a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gases, an increase in recycling levels and a general switch in attitude.

One area that isn’t being given enough attention, however, is that of e-waste. The total amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) ending up in landfill is actually on the rise, with latest figures suggesting that 65.4 million tonnes could be sent to waste annually by 2017 – a massive 33% increase from 2012’s figures.


One of the world’s biggest technology giants, Apple, is taking matters into its own hands, attempting to shoulder some of the responsibility by offering all customers free recycling of any of its products.

Anyone that brings an iPhone, iPod, iPad or other related piece of unwanted electronic equipment into an Apple store, or sends it to them by post, will now be able to hand it in to an employee for processing at no cost. Indeed, if the products are in a decent and resalable condition, customers may even receive store credit.

Proactive or Reactive?

Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook, have explained that this move has been taken by the company as part of a campaign to “leave the world better than we found it”, implying that the brand is taking proactive steps to balance out the environmental impact of their global dominance.

However, some will argue that this move is as a result of sustained pressure from protest groups who have been critical of Apple’s role in increasing e-waste creation. The company’s habit of releasing new products on a more-than-regular basis, encouraging fans of the brand to constantly update their electronic gadgets, and the growing concern regarding many technology organisations sending hazardous e-waste to developing countries (especially in Africa) as landfill has led to a number of proposed regulations and legislation regarding the reduction of WEEE.

One example, back in 2012, saw Apple coming under immense criticism for introducing a 9-pin port for its iPods – a seemingly innocuous alteration to the technology that consequently caused serious environmental issues. With the long-running 30-pin port now obsolete, and the products it supports equally redundant, many were forced to upgrade to new models, effectively sending 45 million devices to landfill.

The move was in line with Apple’s bullish method of selecting the technology it prefers and making it the ubiquitous design, often leading to situations that are similar to this.

Other Schemes

Whether arrived at through proactive or reactive means, Apple’s e-waste initiative is undoubtedly a positive step, and appears to be just part of the company’s recent green commitments. Other developments include utilising solar, wind and geothermal energy to power each data centre the organisation runs, as well as working to make every Apple product more energy efficient to reduce charging time and regularity.

A reduction, or complete removal, of harmful toxins has also been a focus, with phthalates, PVC and brominated retardants making way.

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