财富中文网 >> 商业


分享: [译文]

图为苹果的回收机器人Daisy,主要用于对苹果公司通过“以旧换新”计划回收的报废iPhone进行拆解。图片来源:Courtesy of Apple

In an unmarked building tucked away in an industrial park in Austin, a location so secret it doesn’t appear on Apple Maps, one of Apple’s latest technologies is hard at work. Inside glass casing, automatic robotic arms move left, right, up, down, and around a conveyor belt with speed and precision. A couple of technicians in blue lab coats, safety goggles, and gloves watch as fog—created by the glassed-in chamber’s extreme cold, which can drop to –112 degrees—billows around one of the arms. Loud mechanical pounding breaks the low hum of running machinery with a uniform thump, thump, thump.

This complicated system, called Daisy, combines automation and a human touch to give Apple its coveted result: scraps of pure plastic, metal, and glass from otherwise-unusable iPhones. “We spend a lot of time in the engineering, making sure our devices stay together,” says Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives. “Daisy was about making sure we had an efficient and effective way to ¬disassemble products.”



Daisy可以拆卸9种不同型号的iPhone手机,以回收传统设备往往无法回收的高价值材料。图片来源:Courtesy of Apple

Daisy represents not only a breakthrough in electronic recycling efforts—robotically pulling apart an electronic device piece by piece—but also a road map to minimizing environmental impact. Apple prides itself on its green credentials; a high proportion of its supply chain, for example, is powered by renewable energy. Now it’s turning its attention to an equally thorny problem: the fast-growing, often toxic detritus of discarded electronic gear.

Apple in 2017 announced a goal of eventually making all of its products from recycled or renewable material—and eventually, only such material. Apple can’t say when that will happen. (It won’t be soon.) But this building, the Material Recovery Lab, which opened in April, is where the company is doing the research that it hopes will get it there.



图为位于得克萨斯州奥斯汀的苹果材料回收实验室里的一个电子垃圾漏斗。苹果公司正在研究如何改进这种用于电子垃圾回收的大型机械。图片来源:Courtesy of Apple

Managing e-waste, a category that spans thrown-away equipment from fax machines to smartwatches, is becoming an increasingly complex problem. In 2016 the world generated 44 million metric tons of e-waste, according to the Global E-Waste Monitor. For perspective, that’s the equivalent of about 4,500 Eiffel Towers.

Household e-waste, including consumer electronics, is a smaller share of the pile; last year it accounted for 1.6 million metric tons, or 3.5 billion pounds, according to the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology. Total e-waste mass is actually decreasing as companies release sleeker, smaller products, says Callie Babbitt, associate professor at the Golisano Institute. But there’s a new problem on the rise, she explains: “The products we’re using now are relying on an increasingly complex mix of rare-earth materials and precious metals.” And as companies put out new products at an increasingly rapid pace, even automated systems may struggle to keep up.



Daisy的分捡机制。这个机器人每小时可以拆解大约200部iPhone。图片来源:Courtesy of Apple

Apple declines to estimate the size of its own e-waste footprint. The company sold 217.7 million iPhones last year: At an average of about five ounces a phone, that means Apple put about 68 million pounds of materials into households worldwide through phones alone, some of which will eventually become waste if consumers lack a better option.

Daisy represents a “crucial step” toward Apple’s goals, says Jackson, who spent five years leading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before joining Apple. The robot, which debuted last year, can disassemble 15 different iPhone models (from the iPhone 5 up) at a rate of 200 devices per hour. The machine at the Austin lab and another in the Netherlands together are processing about 1 million of the 9 million iPhones collected since April through Apple’s trade-in program. (Most of the others are refurbished and resold.)


杰克逊表示,Daisy代表着苹果公司朝着它的环保目标迈出了“关键的一步”。在加盟苹果前,她曾经担任美国环保署署长一职达五年之久。Daisy于去年正式问世,它可以拆解iPhone 5以上的15款不同型号的iPhone手机,每小时可拆解200台。今年4月以来,苹果通过“以旧换新”计划,已经回收了大约900万台iPhone手机。苹果的两台Daisy机器人(另一台在荷兰)正在拆解回收其中的100万台旧手机。

Daisy正在拆解一部iPhone手机的屏幕。图片来源:Courtesy of Apple

Apple lists 14 materials used in its products that it hopes to eventually fully recycle. One is plastic, which takes hundreds of years to decompose, poses a threat to wildlife, and can release harmful toxins as it corrodes. Another is lithium, found in rechargeable batteries, the mining of which takes a heavy toll on the environment. With help from Daisy, the company has been able to recover all 14 elements for recycling; it’s already reusing tin and aluminum for new Apple products like the MacBook Air.

Traditional e-waste recycling facilities are less dainty than Daisy. Most rely on bulky machines to shred products, dumping the output into bins of mixed particles. These mixed streams are much harder to recycle, and some elements get lost, stuck, or tossed out in the process. Jackson says Apple wants to improve not only its own processes but also the broader industry’s mulch-it-all approach. Part of its Austin facility is dedicated to broad ¬e-waste recycling R&D, with the hope of developing innovations that will allow all recycling facilities to recover more materials, improving the consumer-tech supply chain.

苹果公司表示,公司希望最终对产品中使用的14种材料做到完全回收。其中之一是塑料,因为它需要数百年的时间才能够分解,因而会对野生动物构成威胁,而且它在降解的过程中还会释放出有害的毒素。另一种材料是锂,主要使用在可充电电池中,锂矿的开采会对环境造成严重破坏。在Daisy的帮助下,苹果公司已经能够对全部14种材料进行回收利用。目前,它已经开始在MacBook Air等新产品中使用回收的锡和铝等材料。


图为Daisy正在拆解一部iPhone。图片来源:Courtesy of Apple

It’s a long road that will require numerous parts of the industry to get on board if Apple’s goals are to be realized. Even Jackson says she wasn’t initially convinced it was doable. But after talking to engineers and team members, she came to see total recycling as not only possible but also vitally necessary. “If we don’t spend time investing in making sure the hardware is used for a long time and materials are reused,” she says, “it will be a problem we cannot surmount.”

A version of this article appears as part of the Change the World package in the September 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “Someday, Your New Phone Could Be Made From Your Old Phone.”






  1. 拯救地球:循环经济的巨大挑战和机遇
  2. 苹果iPhone 11将至,有哪些细节值得注意?
  3. 治理塑料垃圾是一个全球性危机,也是一个投资机会