Apple’s Liam is a robot that tears down iPhones for recycling

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Yesterday at Apple’s spring product launch, the company revealed a robot called Liam that has been designed to deconstruct iPhones so that its parts and materials can be reused or recycled.

Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives – Lisa Jackson said at the company event that Apple will focus on recycling and reuse of its products.

Apple’s Liam
Apple’s Liam recycles iPhones

She also said “There’s no other machine in the world that does what Liam can do.”

Apple’s team has been working on Liam for the last three years and will initially focus on the iPhone 6. Now, the Cupertino-based company is planning to modify and expand Liam to handle other Apple products and recover more resources.

Mashable’s report describes Apple’s Liam as:

“A large-scale robot, with 29 freestanding robotic arms at various skill stations. But while most assembly-line robots help put together products you’ll one day hold in your hands, Liam is hard at work disassembling your ruined, returned iPhones.”

What Liam can do?

Last month, the latest recycling robotic system started operating at full capacity and in every 11 seconds Liam can take apart one iPhone 6. The robot can extract platinum and silver from the main logic board, separate copper and gold from the camera, and rescue lithium and cobalt from the battery.

In a way, the Apple’s recycling robot is an automatic version of metal recycling workers who scrape off gold and other precious metals from devices that have been thrown in the trash.

If Apple’s Liam works uninterruptedly for a year, it can handle no more than a few million phones. Although it’s only a small fraction of the 231 million iPhones Apple sold in 2015, yet it that can benefit our environment and of course the company.

Gary Cook, senior IT analyst for Greenpeace said about Apple’s Liam:

“If it’s easy for a robot, that’s great. But making it easier for a human, who will be doing most of this, is part of the solution.”

The move by the Cupertino-based company is an attempt to address the criticism that its products face. It’s said that Apple products are so tightly constructed that it can be really difficult to disassemble, refurbish and reuse their components.

Apple’s Liam will help the company in saving money as it’ll decrease the need to purchase those expensive materials again. The Liam tool will recycle iPhones returned to Apple at its stores.

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