Greenpeace Slams Apple’s iPhone Recycling Robot Daisy

2 minute read
| Analysis

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.

Apple Daisy iPhone recycling robot

Apple’s Daisy robot disassembling old iPhones for recycling

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.

[Starting Today, Apple is Making Earth Day Donations and Built a New Robot]

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.

[Here are the iPhones and iPads that Won’t Run iOS 11]

[Apple Apologizes for Throttling Controversy, Offers $29 Battery Upgrades]

[Apple’s $29 iPhone Battery Replacement Doesn’t Require a Device Check]

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.

9 Comments Add a comment

  1. redptc

    Jeff, Great rebuttal.

    While I am a Greenpeace supporter, it is ignorant statements like those that make me want to reduce my level of financial support. Apple is doing more to support the environment than almost any other tech company and yet Greenpeace keeps searching for things to harp on.

    My son is still using my old iPhone 5s and probably will continue to do so for years until I upgrade my iPhone and pass down my iPhone 6. Maybe I’ll redirect some of my Greenpeace donation toward upgrading to an iPhone X sooner than planned.

    Thanks, Greenpeace!

  2. geoduck

    If feels like Greenpeace wants to dictate Apple’s product design, or maybe exploit Apple’s environmental efforts for its own visibility.

    DIng, ding, ding. Got it in one. That’s all they want to do, increase the visibility of Greenpeace.
    Because Greenpeace is no longer an environmental organization. Several decades ago they became just another multinational conglomerate looking for money. The difference being they get it from donations from the gullible rather than by making a product (you know, like Apple does).
    I donate to environmental causes. I’ve even worked with a few. But NONE of my time or money goes to Greenpeace. I prefer organizations that, you know, actually do something for the environment.

  3. jhorvatic

    Why is Greenpeace whining about repairability? Apple makes all there products with green materials that are totally recyclable. Apple is number one in the world for there environmental efforts by far. The robot is another example of how they use technology to recycle there products. Has nothing to do with if you or I can repair the product. Apple gives you several ways to get your product repaired. Greenpeace stick to environmental issues, you have no business complaining about repairability as Apple has that one covered already. I don’t see anyone complaining about repairability about Samsung phones. How many of you at home can repair a Samsung? I bet not to many if any at all. This isn’t about 1 company. It’s the worlds responsibility and if anything Greenpeace should be talking to the Whitehouse about what they are doing to the environmental policies right now.

  4. aardman

    Greenpeace has now become the PETA of the green movement. A publicity-seeking, outrage-addicted, holier-than-thou, ally-scorning machine that is more interested in promoting an image of solitary environmental martyr rather than marshaling a broad phalanx of willing allies who are genuinely concerned about the environment.

  5. John Kheit

    Greenpeace are attention clickbait whores that mention apple any chance possible to grab headlines, because they pathetically cannot garner any attention on their own diminished merits. F’ them.

  6. Alex Santos

    Your first paragraph, as you may know intros it:

    “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.”

    This is the hard truth and Apple has to get real!
    repairable and upgradeable product design.
    This means, I, good old me, should be able to repair it anywhere and having a baked in battery, basically non-user serviceable for 95% of the users out there is just crappy. Greenpeace is right, Apple or Johny Ive should wake up and not be so selfish. Yes we love his design but once we are past it, the device needs to deliver on a removable battery design. None of this fidgeting around to get a battery out. Yeah I know Apple can do it for me but I want to see some competition in this area.

    Can you imagine if Macs had RAM that required as much effort, who would upgrade RAM, 5%?

    The argument is simple, I suspect 50% of people dump their phones for a new one for no reason other than poor battery performance. If those batteries were simply removable, with ease, then yes, phones could last much longer.

    Your apologetically introductory remarks that excuse Apple because 5S’s are still OS upgradeable is not GreenPeace’s problem, nor mine for that matter.

    “The iPhone 5, for example, was released in 2012” – and yes people still use them today, probably because their incomes are too low … to me the real problem is that the battery is not genuinely replaceable by any user. Once that battery goes, and they are on 2012 models, Daisy will have her hand(s) full.

    Thanks for the article, it was too brief, I would have enjoyed a deeper perspective. I love your articles but this one was just to apologetic to Apple for me. I am little beyond apologizing for Apple, he’s all grown up now and should start behaving like a gentleman who lives and breathes the 21st century a little past design ethos — form follows function, follows earth, follows ease of use for the user.

  7. Alex Santos

    Correction:

    I said “to me the real problem is that the battery is not genuinely replaceable by any user.” I do mean most

  8. Alex Santos

    “If feels like Greenpeace wants to dictate Apple’s product design, or maybe exploit Apple’s environmental efforts for its own visibility.”

    Come on!

    Thank god we live in a world where we can be critical of corporate interests. If you ask me, Apple is using the environmental crisis we are in to market itself via Daisy. It can run both ways my friend.

    At the end of the day, the teams at Apple who developed Daisy and GreenPeace are ultimately seeking the same goal. The culprit here Mr Ive and respective team for apparently not once showing us a removable iPhone battery design for reasons I and most anyone else can only speculate, something I won’t entertain.

    I like the company, they make very nice products that I’ve enjoyed using since ’87. First Apple product was a Iix, never owned a PC in my life, I don’t need to apologize but we should demand much more. Apple has been developing more and more physically closed systems, using glue and other nasty materials that are a pain when you need to get in and do something. Can you imagine what it’s like installing your own HD in the new iMacs? It’s bad enough that models of 5 or 6 year vintage required function cups to get the glass off, now there is glue to contend with for no reason other than to advertise that it is thinner.

    In my view, this is not necessary design, it only creates products that end up having shorter life cycles and contributing to Apple’s bottom line. Remember Apple shuts the door after 5 years, it’s vintage at that point, even though you only need a replacement display. What’s that?

    It really is design and company policy to EOL devices after 5 years. It’s right there in black and white, 5 years is the term, after that half decade term there are no parts that Apple sells for said devices. Your options suddenly got very narrow. This to me sounds more like an Apple insurance policy that they conjured up for themselves.

    I am very much against this 5 year vintage, it’s a made up value. Parts continue to be available for Apple to replenish with but they arbitrarily created this figure to guarantee themselves an income.

    Thanks for the opportunity. I side with Greenpeace on this issue, not Apple.

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