Apple unveils 'Daisy' iPhone recycling robot for Earth Day

Daisy is part of a broader set of environmental programs from Apple, including a donation to a nonprofit for every used device traded in through the end of April.

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Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
3 min read

Apple is looking to an iPhone-chomping robot to help save the planet. 

On Thursday, the consumer electronics maker introduced Daisy -- a new robot in Apple's Austin, Texas, factory that disassembles old iPhones to make it easier to reuse and recycle their parts. It replaces the previous robot, Liam, and uses some of the older machine's components. 

Daisy's unveiling is part of a number of announcements by Apple for Earth Day this Sunday. The Cupertino, California-based company also combined its Trade-Up and Recycling efforts into a new program called "GiveBack," designed to make it easier to trade in your old iPhone for an Apple Store gift card or credit toward a new device. 

Apple's new robot, Daisy, recycles parts from old iPhones at a pace of up to 200 devices per hour, the company says.

Apple's new robot, Daisy, recycles parts from old iPhones at a pace of up to 200 devices per hour, the company says. 

Spencer Lowell/Apple

And through April 30, Apple will make a donation to Conservation International, a nonprofit focused on ways to protect the environment, for every device it receives through GiveBack (those of you who trade in or recycle your device will still receive Apple Store credit for the old device, as usual). Apple declined to say how much money it will donate for each used device it receives this month. 

Watch this: Watch Apple's Daisy robot rip apart old iPhones

The efforts are part of Apple's push to promote Earth Day. The company has been focused for years on making its products and its operations more environmentally friendly and has long said it aimed to run its operations entirely on renewable energy. Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2014 famously said he doesn't "consider the bloody ROI" (return on investment) when it comes to issues like the environment, accessibility and worker safety. The broader corporate world is also making an effort to promote a greener way of living. 

Last week, Apple said all its facilities, including its retail stores, offices and data centers, now run on clean energy. The company also noted that nine more of its manufacturing partners have committed to powering all their Apple production with renewable energy, bringing the number of supplier commitments to 23. 

Apple on Thursday expanded on last week's news by releasing its full environmental report. The biggest news centered on its previously announced update of now fully operating on renewable energy. But Apple also detailed its progress in conserving resources and using safer materials in its products and processes. 

Meet Daisy, Apple's new iPhone recycling robot

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As part of its efforts to recycle old iPhones, the company shared details about its new recycling robot, Daisy. The robot supercharges its predecessor's capabilities, operating more quickly and tearing down a much higher number of device models. 

Liam, the old robot, was custom built for the iPhone 6 and could take apart 1.2 million iPhones a year when it launched two years ago, according to Apple. Daisy can disassemble nine versions of the iPhone, at a speed of up to 200 iPhones taken apart per hour. (Assuming Daisy runs 24 hours a day, that would total 1.75 million iPhones a year.) 

Daisy, is located in Austin, Texas. A sibling will eventually be placed in Europe.

Daisy, is located in Austin, Texas. A sibling will eventually be placed in Europe.

Spencer Lowell/Apple

Daisy's improved technology also allows the company to sort out materials that traditional recyclers can't recover, Apple says. The company will eventually install a second Daisy robot in Europe.

As part of Apple's Earth Day push on Thursday, the company's stores around the globe will feature green leaves on their logos or display window decals for Earth Day.

On Saturday, Apple Watch users will receive notifications about the company's Earth Day Challenge, which encourages you to go outside and work out for at least 30 minutes. If you do that, you'll get unique stickers in the Messages app.


Apple's new robot, Daisy, can disassemble nine versions of the iPhone. Its predecessor, Liam, was specific to the iPhone 6. 

Spencer Lowell/Apple

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