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Almost Nothing About the 'Apple Harvests Gold From iPhones' Story Is True ( 45

Jason Koebler, reporting for Motherboard: You may have seen a viral headline floating around over the last few days: Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold last year, which was extracted from iPhones. Almost none of what was reported is true. [...] Here is the truth: Apple paid independent recyclers to recycle old electronics -- which were almost never Apple products, by the way -- because it's required by law to do so. Far from banking $40 million on the prospect, Apple likely ended up taking an overall monetary loss. This is not because Apple is a bad actor or is hiding anything, it's simply how the industry works. All electronics manufacturers that sell products in the United States are required to do e-waste recycling under laws enacted in 25 states. The laws are different in each state, but none of them require Apple to recycle Apple products. Instead, they usually require manufacturers to recycle a certain amount of pounds of e-waste, which is linked to either their market share or to the overall weight of products they sell. That's why you see Apple noting that it recycled "71 percent of the total weight of products we sold seven years earlier."
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Almost Nothing About the 'Apple Harvests Gold From iPhones' Story Is True

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @04:16PM (#51950793)

    As long as they do it, it's a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Almost nothing about the "Almost Nothing About the 'Apple Harvests Gold From iPhones' Story Is True" story matters.

    • Yes, but you don't get a claim good karma just for following the laws. I followed the traffic laws today and didn't blow through any intersections, etc. but that doesn't mean I should go around bragging about what a great person I am. We're not going to celebrate you for paying your taxes, so let's not toot Apple's horn for fulfilling their obligations.

      I'm sure they release this information in the hopes that idiots take the bait and Apple gets some good press, but if they want praise for being virtuous t
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by tom229 ( 1640685 )
        Save your breath. People that have been fooled into paying 20% more than they need to are always desperate to post-purchase rationalize.
        • Where are people buying iPhones that cost 20% more than where they are available for purchase elsewhere? Also, who's going to rationalize that instead of returning it and getting it from the cheaper source?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BasilBrush ( 643681 )

          It seems to be you who's keen to rationalise buying something else. Insecure that you bought something not as good, but 17% cheaper.

    • by nhat11 ( 1608159 )

      The issue is how the story misinform readers, otherwise yes it is a good thing and I don't think anyone is arguing that.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2016 @04:19PM (#51950803)

    How does the author take a statement such as "Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold from phones last year" and basically end up with "that's not true because it wasn't $40 million in profits"?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's not this author's claim. The claims are "Apple did not recycle anything, they paid other companies for 'recycling credits' (think carbon credits)" (so "Apple recycled" is false)


      "Apple refurbishes and resells used phones instead of recycling them. The e-waste is mostly old CRT TVs, computers, and other equipment" (so "from phones" is false)

      Leaving "$40 million worth of gold" and "last year" to be the only parts of the sentence that are true.

    • > How does the author take a statement such as "Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold from phones last year"

      That's false because the article is based on data that isn't about recycling phones. Mostly it's CRT televisions and monitors. So if we take out the incorrect words "from phones", we get "Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold". Of course "Apple recycled" isn't true either, so take that out. The (possibly) true part is "$40 million worth of gold". So half the words are true, half aren't.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      Basically, Apple is required by laws in various states and countries to recycle e-waste because they are a manufacturer of electronics. The waste that they collected, which included cell phones but likely included far more non-cellphone electronics, went to many different recyclers for processing. Most of the articles implied that only Apple's phones/devices/gadgets where involved but would have included a lot of non-Apple products as well. Any e-waste would qualify to meat their requirements, not just the

    • did you fail at even reading the summary? The statement is false because it WASN'T apple phones and wasn't apple doing the recycling. $40 million in gold may have been extracted but it wasn't by apple.
    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold from phones last year"

      Apple has in its possession or (has sold) 40 million in gold as a result? Well no.
      But the gold was from phones? Well mostly no.
      And it was last year? Well... mostly. Sure.
      But 40 million in gold was recycled? Yes. That part happened.

      So it should have read:

      In the last fiscal year Apple paid recylers to process various ewaste from which the recyclers extracted 40 million worth of gold. It cost more than that to process the ewaste.


    • How does the author take a statement such as "Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold from phones last year" and basically end up with "that's not true because it wasn't $40 million in profits"?

      Not, he said it wasn't true because Apple didn't do it, and it wasn't gold and it wasn't worth $40 million dollars. In other words: Almost none of it was true.

    • by tom229 ( 1640685 )
      The article is just settling down the hype, which I commend. For weeks now the internet has been full of articles about how wonderful Apple is for recycling and how much they're doing. Articles, no doubt, authored by their own PR department and/or paid shills of it. The reality is they paid an outside firm to satisfy their legal obligation. Something that, no doubt, all companies around them do as well. So why isn't there a similar article about Google or Microsoft? Well, as bad as those companies are, ther
  • And? Most stories reported on the Internet are not true. They are just clickbait. Slashdot is continuing this proud tradition. Click here to see the shocking details of what happens next!
    • Especially this one. It sounds like basically everything about the story was true: they are indeed recycling electronics, and the numbers are correct.

      The 'errors' were errors of omission: the earlier story didn't mention that Apple is forced to do that by law. But that's not the same as being false.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Believe me, if the name of Apple is associated with a story someone here is going to go over it with a fine tooth comb and try to make everything seem like Apple was making deals with the devil.

        Being a fanboy is no longer about liking something and talking about it all the time. It's about bashing the competition to try to make them look bad. Politics is much the same way and yet people wonder why the public is so polarized and hostile. Nothing good will come of this kind of thinking.

  • by Maow ( 620678 )

    Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle.

    It's nice to see some progress on the recycle part.

  • Does this mean the smoldering pile of iPhones in my back yard will not make me rich? At least I my vial of tears from former iPhone owners.
  • Almost nothing of any Apple-sponsored story is actually true. This company seems to operate it's marketing department like a propaganda arm these days. A very effective one at that.
  • iPhones and other mobile phones have more gold per unit weight than almost any other consumer electronics, and they are much more valuable than gold ore ... if, and only if, they can be collected and processed in very high volume. Apple is not in the high volume business of smelting and refining iPhones, so of course it contracts with a subcontract electronics recycling industry that has existed for decades to recover gold. And that industry puts all gold-bearing electronics, e.g. mobile phones, circuit boa
  • Meh. (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by kimvette ( 919543 )

    I accidentally burned my Macbook Pro in the firepit in the backyard two years ago. I had tossed the wrong box in the fire (I had two boxes... one had cardboard in it, the other had my Macbook Pro and a couple of boxes in it and I mixed them up). My GF at the time asked me "is that your Macbook in there?"


    Not a tear was shed though. I laughed about it - because I loathed the thing. Chicklet keyboard, much of the assembly glued together to make it as unrepairable and un-upgradable as possible (Apple is v

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