Apple’s recycling program gives a leg up to e-waste business

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Date: Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, 09:33
Category: Apple, Consumer Electronics, Environment, Retail Store

green-recycling-symbolBack in September, Apple began rolling out its in-store iPhone trade-in service in US Apple retail stores as part of their Reuse and Recycling Program. In October, this program extended to the UK followed by other European retail locations. This program allows customers to walk into a store, have the value of their current iPhone determined by an Apple employee, and receive an Apple Gift Card for that amount to be applied toward the purchase of a new iPhone. It’s important to note that the gift card can ONLY be used toward a new iPhone, not other Apple products. This can also be done online, where you will be sent a box to send in your device in exchange for the gift card.

According to Apple’s Reuse and Recycling Program web page, device market value is calculated by PowerON (at least in the US), a service for retailers and manufacturers to offer trade-in programs to customers, similar to what Gazelle offers directly to device owners. Comparing these values with ones offered at Gazelle, the values from Apple tend to be a little bit lower, however if you take it into a retail store, you can swap your old hardware with a shiny, new device and it’ll be set-up and working by the time you exit the store.

According to a press release from The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch site, mobile phone trade-ins have become a hot commodity. It states that, “…last year approximately 1.7 billion mobile phones, containing 453 million pounds of e-waste materials, were manufactured.”. With that much material swimming around, there’s money to be made, and given the amount of iPhones Apple makes, their recycling program is going to make sure even more e-waste makes it to recycling companies. GTSO, an environmentally conscious company with an interest in delivering “green friendly” solutions, is currently involved in e-waste partnerships domestically and with partners in Latin America and other emerging markets.

“Apple’s involvement likely ensures users will turn in their phones to be recycled before continuing the cycle of buying a new mobile device,” GTSO CEO Paul Watson said. “That signals a market for recycling that will continue to grow and become very profitable for years to come.”

The positive fallout from all this is that as the market of e-waste becomes more profitable and desirable, the more products and materials that get recycled. I guess you’d call that a win-win.

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2 Responses to “Apple’s recycling program gives a leg up to e-waste business”

  1. This article makes a mistake in the ability to use the
    Apple Gift Card only for the iPhone. When I went into the Apple
    Store to pick up my new iPhone, I was told that I CANNOT apply the
    value of the card to the purchase of the phone. This Apple Program,
    like most others it has instituted, was poorly planned, ineptly
    rolled out, and unevenly applied. Apple should rethink its ability
    to function as a recycler in this capacity.

  2. You may be correct about the execution and application of the program. As can be seen from a few different sources, there are some discrepancies in the information about the program. In a Wired article, they say;

    “Finally, you’ll be presented with your new iPhone. It’s been reported elsewhere that Apple will issue credits or gift cards for new phones. That’s incorrect. If the iPhone you want is out of stock or unavailable, you will not be able to trade-in your old iPhone.”

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/08/apple-trade-in/

    On AppleInsider, their information was similar to mine;

    “Apple’s program is likely the most strictured any of the major offerings, as it is only accessible through an Apple retail outlet and can only result in the customer receiving a gift card that must go toward the purchase of an iPhone on contract with a carrier.”

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/09/10/iphone-trade-in-program-roundup-apple-retail-gazelle-walmart

    Apple’s own website states;

    “Get an Apple Store Gift Card for the value of your old device.Turn that iPhone, iPad, or computer — Mac or PC — you’re not using anymore into something brand new. Send it to us and we’ll determine if it qualifies for reuse. If it does, that means your device has monetary value that we’ll apply to an Apple Store Gift Card, which you can use for purchases at any Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store.”

    So, there has been some miscommunication in the details of the program. Whether this discrepancy is at the company level, or store level is unknown. There may be a number of unstated restrictions that Apple has not made clear to the public. Perhaps in your case, they wouldn’t let you apply the card because the iPhone was a pickup order, or perhaps something as simple as the employee you dealt with didn’t understand the program. I suggest you call Apple in order to get a resolution about this and your case.