Let's see if he comes forth with a mea culpa, now that Apple is as much as admitting that their newer models just aren't easily recyclable - otherwise why else would they be pulling the EPEAT certification from their products?
Here's what Sims has to say about the new Apple Systems:
""Sealed units [like the iPad] make it difficult to remove the batteries," Steve Skurnac, president of SIMS Recycling Solutions, said in a statement. "From a recycler's point of view, the hazardous components [like batteries] need to be easily separated or removed.""
If Apple is contracting with third parties to recycle systems, and those third parties don't know how to recycle the glass with an adhesive on it - then there is an issue. [Edit - In their interview, iFixit called out in particular the difficulty separating the battery from the Retina MacBook Pro case - the same concern of the President of Apple's recycling company. http://ifixit.org/2884/apple-ditches-green-standard-cuts-off...]
I just think Gruber (a podcast that I listen to, so it's clear where my biases lay) should have given a bit more credibility to Kyle Wiens. The iFixit guys know a lot about the material elements of hardware, and he did take the time to contact people in the recycling industry before making his comments.
In most cities there are shops that will replace cracked screens, do basic damage repair etc on iPads, iPods, iPhones etc. They seem to manage just fine with the units being glued.
I am guessing the issue is purely a cost one.
Moving beyond that, this raises the cost of recycling the glass, which in turn raises the cost of buying the recycled glass. This makes it a less attractive deal to manufacturers than new glass, thus giving companies less incentive to process the glass with glue.
That isn't generally true, mostly because it is valuable as long as you have glass production nearby. The UK does have a mountain of green glass as it drinks loads of wine but doesn't produce much. But this is apparently quite unusual, at least according to the Economist. - http://www.economist.com/node/9249262
Electronics recyclers need to take out hazardous components such as batteries before sending computers through their shredders, because batteries can catch fire when punctured.
When we originally tore down the Retina MacBook Pro, we could not separate the battery from the upper case. The next day, after a lot of elbow grease, we were finally able to get them apart—but in the process punctured the battery, leaking hazardous goo all over.
They are fairly practiced at taking things apart, including delicate and glued-together equipment, so I'd conclude that it is a fairly strong and difficult to work with glue.
Also see their teardown for a description of their initial, failed attempt to detach the batteries:
For example, on http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook-Pro-with-Retina-Displ... they state "
To complicate matters further, the TrackPad cable lies underneath the battery. Attempting to pry the battery off the upper case could easily sever the fragile cable, which would be bad." That is of no concern when recycling the device.
So, is there a problem recycling these new devices? I would guess so, but I do not rule out that there is a simple process to separate these parts, e.g. by heating them to a certain temperature, putting them in a microwave just long enough, or by taking apart the battery before removing it from the glass. A dedicated recycler could use some specialist procedure for recycling these things. I do doubt that that would be economically feasible, though. The amount of glass involved is just too small.
Also, chances are that that will lead to lower degree of recycling, just as white glass can be recycled better than green or brown glass, and as car windshields, being layered with some plastic, can be recycled, but likely not into new car windshields.
Are you kidding? You want to do that to a Lithium ion battery?
I still think these things will get recycled into low-quality stuff such as concrete filler, but as I said, I do not rule out that there is a relatively easy way to separate the parts that iFixit does not know about.
Those ovens with accurate temperature control and very expensive, and pretty small. And manually hooking up each battery to a discharging station is far too complicated to do in bulk.
You don't need to recycle anything at all as "concrete filler" sand works just fine.
- to give the concrete a different look
- to get rid of junk aka recycle stuff that does not have other uses.
Some links: http://www.concreteideas.com/recycled-glass-in-concrete, http://www.jnphillips.com/greenshield.asp
What about the coatings on the glass?
Most likely both. Maybe they have new glue and glue remover and want to make sure all repairs go through them, because only they have the secret glue remover.
But that would be far fetched maybe?
Don't most recyclers just toss everything in a big shredder, run the bits and pieces through mechanical separators, and smelt each stream of fragments. It's not like bottle recyclers get all bent out of shape if there is still glue and labels on the bottles.
EDIT: inflammatory /= 10;
While this may allow Apple's customers to retain a larger amount of "warm and fuzzies", it probably doesn't pass muster for a person who is seriously concerned about environmentalism.
Apple will accept and transfer any such unit. That doesn't mean the unit actually gets recycled when it goes out Apple's back door. The recycling contractor may recycle 100% of the unit, or some lesser percentage.
If you gave Jobs the choice between making a better product or having a government issued Green certification - you think he'd pick the certification...
If anything this is incredibly Jobs-ian as it's obvious that Cook isn't cow-towing to big business and Government organizations that now won't be able to buy their products.
From a strategic standpoint I see more recycling incentives coming for users over the next few months. They're having trouble keeping the "Apple Refurbished" shelves stocked - I can definitely see their high end refurbished line becoming their version of a "budget" line for low-end consumers.
Bingo. Apple has no incentive to help anyone else disassemble and repurpose their products, while methinks their refurb unit can use all the components they can recover.
Apple probably did not see certification as important to its future growth. Apple was probably also dealing with pressure for EPEAT - and decided the hassle just wasn't worth it. Dropping governing bodies is never an easy decision, but Apple has so much influence already, that it's difficult to say whether trends will follow Apple, or stay with EPEAT. Considering Apple actually provides the value, my bet is on the former.
There are thousands of design tradeoffs to be made in a laptop. Is EPEAT willing to update and republish their rules every time a manufacturer finds a better solution that doesn't comply with the rules? The guidelines seem to track well with 2000 era PCs and cell phones.
From what I can see (EPEAT does not make their guidelines available without payment, there may have been something useful in their Resources section, but I'm finding broken links to third party file sharing sites) they have a set of categories that are required and some that are optional. By how many optionals you meet you get a bronze, silver, or gold rating. Apple marketing can't tolerate anything but a gold.
The guidelines I see don't have flexibility to them. For instance, if you can reduce your glass consumption by 50% by gluing it to something that can acceptably be chucked into the glass recycler, that may be a better environmental decision, but it may also be forbidden by EPEAT.
EPEAT says things need to be taken apart with "common tools". Does the pentalobular screw head count? I doubt it. Even if Apple sends pentalobular screwdrivers with each pallet of computers to the recycler it doesn't count for EPEAT.
" It is possible that..", "I see don't"... "may be a better ... decision"..."The guidelines I see"... "I doubt it"
Your claims are a long stream of unsupported speculation.
Rather than speculate, we can consult the article. The article mentions that the guidelines were developed with Apple's input. The article sources a couple people who noted that the recent MacBook Pro was mostly unrecycleable.
And the "something" which the screen was glued to is the battery and given that batteries are major source of toxic waste, it is hard to imagine how a smaller battery or screen might be a desirable trade-off for the battery's toxic ingredients entering the environment.
Edit: re-reading the article, the situation is that the screen is glued to the case and the battery is glued to the case. Effectively the same result: '“If the battery is glued to the case it means you can’t recycle the case and you can’t recycle the battery,” Frisbee said.'
…guidelines were developed with Apple's input… In what year? Half a decade ago? A decade? You can not simultaneously innovate better manufacturing and make things the same old way.
People need to stop being in a glue tizzy. I'm sure that in a recycling context the glue can be undone with either heat or a chisel. And remember that Apple has a plan in place to replace those batteries.
I suspect the story we are not seeing is that EPEAT is not willing to update the standard fast enough to adapt to modern manufacturing. And they probably shouldn't. Apple will be secretive until release, and EPEAT should take some time to think about things. Those just aren't going to work together.
Every decision impacting recycling has to be viewed with labor costs factored in.
Virtually every recycling victory we've seen in the corporate sector in the past decade or two is due to efforts to make the recycling process cheap enough that the loss is negligible (and in the best cases, recycling is even profitable).
Nobody is saying that gluing things together makes them completely unrecyclable, but that glue could easily be the difference between a recycling company actually recycling parts vs throwing them in the landfill due to increased costs blowing the economics of recycling out of whack (if cost of recycling is significantly larger than cost of throwing item in the landfill, the item is almost certainly going in the landfill).
This is exactly the situation EPEAT was set up (as mentioned, with Apple's input) to watchdog over, and Apple is clearly now putting spectacular hardware design above any green/recycling factors. Whether or not that is a terrible thing is a personal choice to make, but you seem kind of fanboyish in your efforts to pretend like Apple's decision is somehow EPEAT's fault.
Accept that you prefer computers that are now actively non-recyclable and move on.
So, yes, it's completely unrecyclable.
Think about the iPad 2 screen glue. Glass glued in place, but a hair dryer is more than enough heat to release the glue.
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/lithium_ion_safet... says maximum temperature of 265°F, which is very very close to the temperature needed to melt the glue (250°F, for low temperature glues, and 380F for high temperature glue - which is very close to even your 400° number.)
So, your proposed recycling solution is to attack a glued on lithium battery with heat and/or a chisel. Can we film you doing this for charity or something?
I suspect the story we are not seeing is that EPEAT is not willing to update the standard fast enough to adapt to modern manufacturing.
Ummm... I suspect the story that we are seeing is that you have no idea whatsoever about modern manufacturing and are just making shit up to try and defend a position of personal dogma.
I've come to expect nothing less from the Hacker News community than what's reflected by the general tone of the comments in this post.
1. Unless it's an issue related to net neutrality or 'geek rights', let's bend over backward to give corporate America the benefit of the doubt; after all, as aspiring entrepreneurs, can't you sympathize with behavior intended to maximize net revenue?
2. Apple is being victimized by outside parties that fail to comprehend the importance of slaughtering all ideals and standards at the temple of Apple design whims (if a screw requires an extra 2mm of space, there's absolutely no environmental trade-off worthy of discussion or debate).
3. Let's not jump too quickly to question authority, especially when it involves Apple or any tech flavor of the month because you should assume their motives are pure.
Can you (or anyone) provide a citation on the viability of chucking electronics fused to displays in to a glass recycler?
As is typical in the media, I'm left with very few trustworthy sources.
And before anyone says the glue is a new thing, try to take apart a PSU from a Powerbook.
edit: I can't really find details on apple's site and I'm tired. This site  discusses apple's recycling, though since it isn't apple proper I'm not sure it's authoritative. The relevant details appear to be:
Apple's recycler for non-Apple product recycling is WeRecycle!, a certified
e-Steward. Certified e-Stewards are recyclers who have been audited by an
accredited auditor, and found to be conforming to the rigorous e-Stewards
If you are using Apple's trade-in system, this is a different vendor, called
Power-On. Power-On is not an e-Steward (and they don't disclose their
recycling partner), so this trade-in program therefore does not benefit from
independent auditing to high standards.
However, Apple has a very strong policy regarding responsible recycling of
e-waste, stating that all e-waste collected in their programs is handled in
the same region in which it is collected (and therefore not exported to
developing countries). They prohibit use of prison labor for recycling, as
well as incineration and landfilling of e-waste.
The difficulty is always in chasing these companies around following every step and verifying they actually do as they claim. Typically, unfortunately, and especially where expenses without profits are concerned, they don't.
The other problem is now they've made the product this much more difficult to recycle and far more toxic. Somehow, however it happens, huge volumes of Apple's incredibly popular products continue to end up discarded in places where they should not be, and when the "recyclers" get them, the glue, especially the glued batteries and glass, will be a big nasty problem.
NatGeo has done a few programs, and this larger feature discusses the big picture:
This photo gets a lot of circulation when the topic of e-waste comes up, largely because of the recognizable brand.
To be fair nobody knows how the keyboard got there. But it makes a point, it's there, what happens next..?
We are talking specifically about Apple. What evidence do you have that Apple is knowingly letting children be exposed to toxic materials. It's a HUGE claim to make.
The Apple factories are notorious for hiring underage workers.
These findings have been covered in Apple's shareholder report, so it's not like they can be contested.
> Apple found more than 91 children working at its suppliers last year, nine times as many as the previous year, according to its annual report on its manufacturers.
> The US company has also acknowledged for the first time that 137 workers were poisoned at a Chinese firm making its products and said less than a third of the facilities it audited were complying with its code on working hours.
Regarding the recycling of Apple products, your reference says: "Power-On is not an e-Steward (and they don't disclose their recycling partner), so this trade-in program therefore does not benefit from independent auditing to high standards."
This sounds to me it may be consistent with the grandparent post's statement that they are carted off to india to be torn apart by child laborers to find precious metals while using toxic chemicals that shorten their lives. If the recycler refuses to say who is doing the work, where or how, and refuses to allow independent outside auditing, it is unlikely it is being done in a responsible manner.
I don’t think a reasonable evidence-backed case can be made for your implication that Mac laptops are designed to be obsolete more quickly than, e.g., HP, Dell, or Toshiba laptops.
Just more obsolete than all the laptops that can be serviced and upgraded without the same restrictions.
I wouldn't go lumping all of the models from all of those makers and settling for a blanket statement like that because that reads false just by picking one model that passes the conditionals, just one per any given maker.
In the end it is a choice and some will try to sugar coat that choice with whatever makes them feel better about it.
But if you have to imagine a given brand tops the lot because you "don't think a reasonable evidence-backed case can be made", when it clearly can, that speaks lots about brand engadgement from your part as a customer and not much else to the merit of that brand, and stand for the ethics behind it.
http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q1.07/9E601E8E-2AC... (cmd-f for "Mac vs PC Life Span")
The second hand market for such a highly valued brand is a factor that improves real product life cycle. Also, access to said premium priced devices and user brand entanglement tend to slant device usage past its prime.
Pc's (mostly corporate windows machines) tend to be cycled at higher rates, and that has to do with finantial arrangements linked to fiscal incentives. This data will slant any analisys that doesn't account for this specific motivation.
I was just showing how the premise presented by the poster didn't hold up if only one single model per poster referenced brand showed positive.
So, machines that can be serviced and upgraded without the same restrictions, in comparison, will have expanded usage life cycle. This is parallel to your provided information but doesn't become mute by its introduction, it does however make good thinking points on the amount of waste we currently produce...
Could Apple deliver the specs of a Retina MBP with a replaceable battery?
They can certainly deliver the specs without switching to proprietary screws. That colors their other actions and makes it far more likely that the unreplaceable battery is about control and not about delivering certain specs.
If you meant merely that electronic consumer gadgets as a category seem to get dumped out too quickly, I heartily agree.
Compare to their competitors. They release more models quicker, poor 2nd hand market, and they aggressively drive down prices. How do you recycle a Samsung or HTC? Do I have to rely on services provided by local government? Do they have stores that act as drop off points?
That said, I hope they have a way to maintain the same level of recyclability as their old products. It would be shitty of them not to.
When it comes to their machines, they've aggressively moved to using more recyclable materials throughout the entire product line and taken steps to reduce toxic chemicals used during production and assembly. Based on the OP and other articles, it does seem that some machines are less recyclable than others, but overall they've taken huge steps to improve recyclability. If nothing else, current machines are certainly more green than "old Apple's" machines (or any other manufacturer's machines of which I'm aware).
Thanks to the increased importance of mobile products, even their OS is more power efficient than most others out there. They've gone to lengths to architect the system to be aggressive about stepping or powering down hardware when it's not needed, and to also be intelligent about when work needs to be done so that the system's more often in a reduced power mode. Because they make the whole widget, the hardware and software are complimentary in reducing power drain. The same reason a MacBook Pro gets 20 hours of battery life is why an iMac pulls less wattage that other desktops.
Finally, addressing your explicit point: a machine's only obsolete if it no longer meets your needs. I know people still using PowerPC Macs, or early generation Intel hardware. Apple no more "designs for the dump" than any other computer or phone manufacturer. Everyone releases new hardware every year and wishes consumers would immediately upgrade. Ultimately its up to the consumers themselves to upgrade; no one's forcing them to buy new hardware.
Again, comparing "old Apple" to "new Apple" – Mac OS 8.1 was the final OS release that supported 68040 Macintoshes. The first 68040 shipped in 1993 and Mac OS 8.1 shipped in 1998 (as did 8.5, which removed support for the 68040), giving us a supported OS lifetime of ~5 years. This month OS X 10.8 ships, which will remove support for 1st generation 64-bit Intel hardware (those machines ran 32-bit EFI which can't support OS X's 64-bit kernel). The oldest supported machines will be the second generation Core 2 Duo and Xeon, which shipped in 2007. That gives us a supported OS lifetime of ~5 years. Old Apple seems rather similar to new Apple, in this regard.
According to Mactracker, Macintosh 128k only had a supported OS lifetime of 2 years – System File 3.2/Finder 5.3 are the last supported Macintosh software releases, and they debuted in 1986, just two years after the first Macintosh. Perhaps "new Apple" is better than "old Apple". ;-)
However, 20 hours of battery life for the MacBook pro? Where can I get one of those? My MacBook pro gets 4, maybe 5 if I am lucky, and I even use a utility which switches to integrated graphics when on battery. 2011 15" MacBook pro.
7h is the advertised time for the latest MBPs and the 13" MBA. Sorry for the mix up!
Boy was I wrong.