Apple says its recycling robots can now handle 23 different iPhone models – here’s how to recycle yours for free

Apple says its recycling robots can now handle 23 different iPhone models – here’s how to recycle yours for free
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Earth Day falls on April 22 this year, and to mark the occasion Apple has launched a new Recycling Robots video on its YouTube channel – and added a new banner to its website letting you know that it will recycle your iPhone for free, should you feel like ditching it. That might be a good option if you don’t think your device is worth trading in.

Apple’s new “Recycling Robots” video on its UK YouTube channel notes that Daisy and its other robots and other can “now recover recyclable material from 23 models of iPhone,” meaning there’s a good chance that the company will now accept your device, even if it’s getting long in the tooth.

Alongside that video, Apple’s updated Trade In page encourages you to recycle your iPhone. “This Earth Day, let’s put your used device to good use,” says the company. It notes that you can trade it in and get credit towards a future purchase at the Apple Store – or if it isn’t eligible “we’ll recycle it for free”, Apple says.

There’s a slight asterisk on that, as further down the page Apple says “when we receive your device, it will be thoroughly inspected and assessed for reuse or recycling”. Still, Apple says it will recycle devices, cables, cases, accessories, and other similar electronics for free, and whether your device is marked for recycling or reuse, Apple promises that that it “will be managed in an environmentally responsible way”.

Alongside its Trade In push, Apple also revealed some more progress it’s made towards its Apple 2030 goal (the year by which it plans to be carbon neutral). 

The company says that its supply chain and global operations are now powered by three times as much clean electricity, compared to 2020. To offset the electricity that Apple fans use to charge and power their devices, it also announced massive new solar projects in Michigan and Spain, which will apparently produce 237 megawatts of clean energy collectivity by the end of 2024.

Apple still has long way to go before it hits that ambitious 2030 goal – and for tech fans, the main way of contributing remains recycling old tech. So if you have an old iPhone hanging around that isn’t worth trading in due to the low compensation you’ll get for it, it’s worth looking into Apple’s offer of free recycling. You’ll finally be able to clear out that drawer of old devices without having to spend a penny.

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Recycle or trade in?

A laptop on a blue background showing the Apple Trade In website

(Image credit: Future)

If you know that your ancient iPhones won’t fetch any real value from trade-in websites, Apple’s recycling offer can be a good way to go. All you need to do is fill in a form and you’ll receive a prepaid shipping label, which will enable you to send off your device free of charge.

But what about if your device is not particularly elderly? In that case, it’s a good idea to check trade-in websites first, as you might still get a decent amount of money for it. After all, iPhones hold their value remarkably well, even years after they were released.

Apple offers trade-in prices for all of its devices, but typically these have not been very competitive. We’d only recommend going with Apple if you want the convenience of trading in an old iPhone and getting a discount on a new Apple product in a single transaction, as it saves you having to sell the device to one company and then buy a new iPhone from another. But given Apple’s paltry offers, it’s a good idea to shop around first.

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We’ve got a ton of expert advice in our phone trade-in guide, so be sure to check that out before you do anything. And with Earth Day just around the corner, it might be time to think about whether you really need all those antique phones filling up your drawers – or whether you can recycle them and clear up some space.

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