No, Apple didn’t make $40 million mining gold from discarded iPhones

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Credit: Agnico-Eagle - Agnico-Eagle Mines

Jason Koebler at Motherboard has done the worlds of reading, writing and recycling a massive favor by clarifying – debunking, in many cases – a run-amok story from earlier this week that created the erroneous impression that Apple was profiting handsomely from the mining of millions of dollars worth of gold from old iGadgets. 

Koebler’s piece begins:

You may have seen a viral headline floating around over the last few days: Apple recycled $40 million worth of gold last year, which was extracted from iPhones. Almost none of what was reported is true.

The story was everywhere, from major mainstream outlets like CNN, Fox News, and Huffington Post to tech-focused and normally very good sites such as MacRumors, Gizmodo, Quartz, and The Verge. I’ve never come across a story that has been so uniformly misreported—hundreds of outlets covered Apple’s “Environmental Responsibility Report,” and not one article I read came remotely close to getting the story right.

The most egregious and inaccurate storyline goes something like this: Apple, out of the goodness of its heart or perhaps fueled by monetary incentives, took old iPhones and iPads that were brought back into its stores, took them apart, melted down the roughly 30 milligrams of gold in each phone, and ended up with 2,204 total pounds of gold.

Didn’t happen. The real story is more than interesting enough and Koebler takes the time to report it out in great detail. It is suggested reading.

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