Apple used Earth Day to unveil Daisy, its replacement for robot for Liam, designed to disassemble iPhones for recycling. The environmental activist group Greenpeace criticized Apple’s efforts saying the company should instead design iPhones that can stay in use longer—a request that seems odd considering the company supports iOS 11 on the five year old iPhone 5s.
Daisy’s job is to efficiently disassemble old iPhones and sort the parts for recycling. According to Apple, Daisy is more efficient at the task than its predecessor, Liam. Thanks to Liam, and now Daisy, Apple is keeping more old iPhones out of landfills.
Greenpeace, however, doesn’t seem to like the new addition to the Apple family. The organization’s USA Senior IT Sector Analyst Gary Cook said in a statement,
Rather than another recycling robot, what is most needed from Apple is an indication that the company is embracing one of its greatest opportunities to reduce its environmental impact: repairable and upgradeable product design. This would keep its devices in use far longer, delaying the day when they’d need to be disassembled by Daisy. Customers want to keep their devices longer, as evidenced by a 3 to 4 week wait for a battery replacement at Apple retail stores earlier this year, when Apple was compelled to dramatically reduce the replacement cost.
It’s true that iPhones aren’t easily repairable, and they aren’t upgradable. That said, they have a surprisingly long life span, especially compared to other smart phones.
The iPhone 5, for example, was released in 2012 and it’s common to see people using the six year old model today. The iPhone 5s is five years old and can run Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 11.
In fact, the only iPhone model that’s truly unusable today is the original model, released in 2007. That model stopped working because of network changes on the part of cell service providers. If that weren’t the case, you could conceivably use an 11 year old iPhone today, although it wouldn’t run current operating system versions.
If feels like Greenpeace wants to dictate Apple’s product design, or maybe exploit Apple’s environmental efforts for its own visibility.
Greenpeace did have some praise for Apple’s environmental efforts and 100% reliance on renewable energy. Gary Cook commented on that saying, “Apple’s leadership on climate change contrasts sharply with its main competitor, Samsung Electronics, who currently operates on only 1% renewable energy.”
Not all old iPhones find their way back to Apple for recycling. Some go to other recycling programs, and some end up in landfills. Still, with robots like Daisy, Apple is making an effort to efficiently recycle as much as it can from every old iPhone it gets—and some of those had a very long life.