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Apple Has Recovered Millions In Gold From Your Old iPhones

April 15, 2016, 6:07 PM UTC

Apple uncovered a seemingly welcome surprise by recovering over a ton of gold from old devices you recycled.

The tech giant revealed in its annual Environmental Responsibility Report (PDF) this week that it recovered 2,204 pounds of gold, valued at millions of dollars in material. Additionally, Apple was able to recover 6,612 pounds of silver as part of its “take-back initiatives” in 2015. In total, Apple recovered 61.4 million pounds of material from recycled devices last year.

While the recycling could be viewed as a nice cash infusion for most, for Apple (AAPL), one of the richest companies in the world with hundreds of millions of cash in the bank, it’s a pittance. What’s more, Apple isn’t using the material to cash it in, but rather to reuse it for its future production efforts.

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At its “Let Us Loop You In” media event on March 21, Apple outlined its recycling program, called Renew. The program lets users recycle old iOS devices in an Apple Store or online. Apple will then disassemble the devices with help from its newly announced Liam robot, which can take iPhones apart piece by piece to repurpose usable materials.

The news was announced by Apple’s vice president for environment, policy, and social initiatives, Lisa Jackson, who also reported last month that 93% of her company’s worldwide facilities were now running on renewable energy. She added that 99% of Apple’s product packaging is sourced from recycled paper or a sustainably managed source.

On Thursday, Apple extended its conservation credibility by announcing a new program, dubbed Apps for Earth. Through April 24, Apple will donate 100% of the proceeds from 27 apps, including Yoga Studio and Angry Birds 2, to the World Wildlife Fund.

“Together, our small actions will make big change,” the company wrote about the Apps for Earth program.

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Reusing materials employed to build iPhones and iPads, though, is an ideal way to help the environment, argues Apple in its Environmental Responsibility Report. The company says that whenever older electronics find their way to a landfill instead of a recycling plant, these devices could “pose a threat to human health or the environment.”

“Through our efforts, we’ve kept more than 597 million pounds of equipment out of landfills since 1994,” Apple wrote. “In 2015, we collected nearly 90 million pounds of e-waste through our recycling programs. That’s 71% of the total weight of the products we sold seven years earlier.”