Apple now accepts used products for recycling

| April 29, 2014

Our cultural obsession with the latest and greatest shiny new object means that the next big thing quickly becomes passé at best, and obsolete at worst. That makes for a whole lot of electronic waste (or “e-waste”). We’ve discussed e-waste at some length in this blog, but we’ve never discussed an individual company’s attempt to address e-waste. Until now.

The powers that be at technology behemoth Apple think they might have a (partial) solution to the e-waste epidemic, but not everyone is eager to take a bite of Apple’s idea.


Apple products are now eligible for recycling through Apple, but not everything qualifies. From Dan Taylor.

Associated Press Technology writer Michael Liedtke reports that Apple will now accept and recycle all old Apple products at no charge to the customer. They’ll even consider a (gasp!) non-Mac desktop or notebook computer for recycling.

To incentivize customers to haul in their old contraptions, Apple is offering Apple Store gift cards in exchange for products that are deemed worthy of reuse (no word on what warrants reusability in an old Apple product).

Liedtke’s report makes it look like you can show up at any Apple store with a bag full of crummy old Mac products and hand it over, but Apple’s website details a slightly more complicated process: For starters, they’re only taking iPhones, iPads, Macs, and PCs. (What, no iPods?) If you were hoping to grab a gift card and go shopping right away, you’re out of luck. Apple contracts with a third party that will determine “fair market value” for your item. They’ll provide a pre-paid shipper for you so you can mail in your discarded item, and then they’ll mail you a gift card in return.

The decision to accept old products for recycling has generated a lot of press, but the comments sections of these reports reveals a bit of backlash. One commenter reflects a common theme: “There are plenty of companies willing to buy your old Apple…devices for real cash.” Another commenter says: “In my experience, you’ll only get a gift card if your recycled product is a very recent model, and it won’t be for much. You’re better off trying to sell it.”

While we’re not in a position to quantify the value of recycling with Apple versus going through another outlet to sell a used product, it’s worth noting that Apple’s recycling initiative is about more than simply taking back their own products. They’re committed to keeping potentially toxic materials out of landfills, since electronic waste is often improperly disposed of. In addition, Apple has reportedly pledged to “power all of its stores, offices, and data centers with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services.”

Over the last four years, Apple has increased their reliance on renewable energy for their offices from 35 percent to 94 percent. Half of their stores currently run on renewable energy, and they’re pushing to convert the remainder of the stores. Apple’s efforts to move toward increasing sustainability were recently recognized by Greenpeace.

The bottom line? It’s possible that your old iPhone will generate more of a return on eBay than at the Apple store, but it’s safe to say that it won’t generate any return sitting in your junk drawer (or clogging up a landfill). Thus, if Apple’s new policy incites more people to properly dispose of e-waste, that’s all good in our book.

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Category: Electronics

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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