As if Apple needed the cash, the company has discovered a way to make tens of millions of dollars off of old, broken, unwanted iPhones.
In its annual environmental report released this week, Apple said it recovered 2,204 pounds (more than a ton) of gold from recycled iPhones, iPads and Macs last year. That’s $40 million worth.
Gold is used in consumer electronics because it is highly averse to corrosion and an excellent conductor of electricity. Silver is actually the best conductor, but it corrodes easily. Copper is super-cheap, but it moves electrons too slowly for some of the most important computing tasks.
Of the 90 million pounds of e-waste through its recycling programs, Apple said 61 million was in reusable materials. Gold made up a relatively trivial amount. But since gold is currently trading at more than $1,200 per troy ounce, it’s among the most valuable materials it pulled from all those old gadgets.