Just call Apple the modern day King Midas. Not only do the vast majority of its products seem to produce gold (if not turn into the precious metal), but the company also managed to turn quite a hefty profit in a recycling project. Leave it to the Cupertino-based firm to figure out a way to literally turn one man’s trash into treasure. A new report suggests that the company recovered 2,204 pounds (over a ton), of gold from recycled Apple devices. That includes iPhones, iPads, and Macs that were discarded over the course of 2015, and in total, the gold added up to an impressive $40 million.
It’s not that Apple is plating all of its devices in 24 karats, but rather that the metal is actually used in a variety of applications in consumer electronics. Due to its conductivity and aversion to corrosion, gold is often chosen over silver (the best conductor, but also highly corrosive), as well as copper (which is very cheap, but not a great conductor). As such, you can find a bit of gold in most the higher end electronic devices you have at home.
Sure, no individual Apple user has that much gold sitting in his or her electronics-laden household, but last year, Apple managed to generate some 90 million pounds of e-waste by way of its recycling programs. Two-thirds of that amount was in reusable materials, and while gold was a very small proportion, its high value at current market rates still made that tiny percentage incredibly valuable.
In addition to the ton of gold Apple reclaimed, it also managed to collect 23 million pounds of steel; 13 million pounds of plastic; 12 million pounds of glass; 4.5 million pounds of aluminum; 3 million pounds of copper; and 6,600 pounds of silver. Not a bad haul.
“We work hard to keep electronic devices out of landfills so that the precious resources they contain can be reused. And we want to ensure that these devices are recycled properly so they don’t pose a threat to human health or the environment,” Apple states in a report on its recycling program. “We’re working hard to reach 100 percent renewable energy for all of our facilities worldwide, and help our suppliers in China and everywhere around the world make the same transition to clean energy as we have.”