Apple and Samsung Race to Build the First Fully Recycled Phone

Tech
Speaker 1: There are more recyclable parts in your smartphone than you think, but how many of those parts are really being recycled or actually pulled from sustainable sources? And just how good are Apple and Samsung, the world's biggest smartphone makers at making green products? And if you're trying to be more environmentally conscious, what do you need to consider when buying a new phone? Speaker 1: Apple and Samsung are trying to use more recycled [00:00:30] materials in their smartphones. Google another popular handset maker pledged to use recycled materials in all of its products by 2022 and Google followed through. Since 2020, all of Google's new pixel and nest products are made with recycled materials. That's good because the Environmental Protection Agency estimates close to half a million phones are thrown out in the US every day. In fact, according to the epa, nearly 3 million tons of consumer electronics were produced in [00:01:00] 2018, but less than 15% were recycled. That's a lot of e-waste. What's more alarming? Smartphones are considered a hazardous waste product, so you can't just throw them out in any old trash can. Apple and Samsung's push towards recyclables is part of a larger movement to build more sustainable tech products. Samsung wants to use recycled resin in 100% of the plastics in its products by 2050. Speaker 1: It claims to already use materials from discarded fishing nets in its flagship and foldable smartphones. In [00:01:30] Apple's 2022 product environment report, Apple says nearly a fifth of all material in its 2021 products came from recycled materials, but apple's sold over 240 million products in 2021. So 20% is better than nothing, but not enough to make a serious dent. The company's new iPhone 14 is made with 100% recycled gold in the camera wires and 100% recycled rare earth elements in its magnets. But to be fair, those are relatively small parts of an iPhone. If Apple [00:02:00] hopes to one day make iPhones solely from recycled materials, like the company said in its environmental responsibility report back in 2017, it needs to step up. Its game. Samsung certified renewed Galaxy phones are made with 100% refurbished parts, which makes them cheaper than a new Galaxy phone by about two to $300. Speaker 1: But Apple and Samsung move towards eco-friendly products, isn't selfless. Consumers are increasingly factoring a product's environmental impact into their purchasing decisions. So [00:02:30] what makes a smartphone sustainable? Well, the most obvious first step is building it with recyclable parts. Most phones are already made up of materials that can be recycled. There's the metal and plastic from your phone's casing. The internal components like your phone circuitry made from valuable metals like gold, copper, and platinum. The cadmium in your phone's battery can even be used to make new batteries. Even the packaging can be recycled. The next step after fully recyclable parts is components that can be easily replaced and repaired. In April, 2022, [00:03:00] Apple launched self-service repair, a program that gives iPhone owners an alternative way to repair the devices rather than taking it to a certified technician. As part of the program, Apple customers can send their broken parts back to Apple, which can either reuse or recycle them. Speaker 1: That's a big shift for rl, which for years refuse to give customers or repair shops custom repair kits. Thanks to the growing right to repair movement and laws, customers finally have the opportunity to fix their devices on their own. Samsung launched [00:03:30] a similar do-it-yourself program called Self-Repair Galaxy. Device owners can replace display assemblies, fat, glass, and charging ports. They can also return used parts to Samsung to recycle. Both companies say they plan to expand their self-service programs to more products, but neither specified to date. Samsung and Apple, like many mobile companies, also offer trade in options to existing customers. If you're looking to upgrade your phone or earn a little extra cash the sustainable way, check out our video on how to trade in your phone. It's impossible [00:04:00] to know if smartphones will ever be made from 100% recyclable materials. Smartphone specs vary from company to company. Speaker 1: There's no guarantee that aluminum recycled from an iPhone will fit the needs of a Samsung phone and vice versa. For fully recycled phones. To become an industry wide practice, companies would need to collaborate on a set of common design standards, which is unlikely. However, Apple and Samsung are making some of their sustainable tech publicly available. Apple offered to license patents related to its recycling robot Daisy [00:04:30] to other companies and researchers for free. Samsung open source. Its solar cell remote, which draws power from radio frequencies and the sun. Don't get me wrong, Samsung's remote and Apple's recycling robot are cool, but they aren't massive steps in tackling e-waste and sustainable smartphone production. Apple and Samsung are making progress, but until there's a bigger push across the industry, don't expect to see phones made from 100% recyclable materials anytime soon. But what do you think? Is there a need for more sustainable smartphones? Leave us a comment [00:05:00] and don't forget to like and subscribe for more videos from cnet.

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