Apple unveiled a cool new robot at a town hall event in Cupertino earlier this week, but it’s not for sale. The robot, nicknamed Liam, takes apart obsolete electronic devices, strips them down, and sorts components so that the material they collect can be reused to make new devices. Apple executive Lisa Jackson introduced Liam and described other ways that Apple is working to meet overall environmental initiatives. Jackson, whose background includes a term as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is Apple’s V.P. of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. She said, “Just like everything we do at Apple, when we think about the environment, we think about innovation. You see, we want to change the world for the better.”
True innovation, she said, means considering what happens to a product at every stage of its life cycle. And while Jackson emphasized the importance of helping the environment, Liam isn’t entirely idealistic. Many of Apple’s products contain valuable materials—cobalt, lithium, gold, copper, tungsten, and silver—that can be reprocessed to make shiny new devices.
We put an incredible amount of energy into designing the best products in the world. And we’ve put that same amount of energy into thinking about what happens when they can no longer be used.
While Liam is the flashiest part of Apple’s recycling program, Jackson also introduced a couple of other “green” initiatives. The new Apple Renew program allows people to return old devices for free at any Apple store or through the mail. The program aims to be an easy and quick way to ensure that Apple’s is recycled responsibly. Jackson also provided an update on Apple’s goal of using 100 percent renewable energy in all operations worldwide. During the last two years, she said Apple has taken steps that include building a giant solar farm in China and rooftop solar arrays in Singapore. Currently, Apple is using 93 percent renewable energy to operate its stores, headquarters, and data centers worldwide.