The problem with recycling iPads, iPhones and other gadgets: They catch fire.

by:CTECHi     2020-01-12
MADISON, Wis. -
They explode when you use gadgets a lot. When we enter the new
Gadget purchase season, take the time to meet people who end up dealing with your old stuff. Isauro Flores-
For a living, herndez took apart used smartphones and tablets, and he kept thick gloves, metal tongs and a red fire box at the desk of electronic waste processor Cascade Asset Management.
He uses them to pass the devices with batteries that burn when he turns them on for recycling.
A corner of his desk was burnt by the Apple iPhone, which started smoking and exploded after he opened it in 2016.
Last year, his colleagues
The staff had to slide off the exploding iPad battery and evacuate the area when it ran out.
Video: Jeffrey A of the post.
Electronic access by Fowler
Waste warehouse in Wis Madison.
Our favorite gadgets, like the iPad, are causing a battery fire and a recycling crisis.
(Jhaan Elker, Washington Fowler/Washington Post) garbage trucks and recycling centers are burning all over the world.
Root cause of the problem: volatile lithium-
Among our favorite electronic products, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and so on all use ion batteries.
Not only are they dangerous but they are difficult to take apartmaking e-
Waste reduces profits and leads to an increasingly serious recovery crisis.
Rechargeable lithium today
Ion batteries in smartphones, tablets, laptops, earplugs, toys, power tools, scooters, hoverboards and electronicscigarettes.
In order to make our equipment slim, powerful and easy to charge, lithium-
The cost of ion batteries is high.
They contain cobalt, which is often mined inhumanely in places such as Congo.
When lithium is crushed, punctured, torn, or dropped
Ion batteries can produce products that are tactfully called \"hot events\" in the industry.
\"This is because these batteries are short-circuited when super batteries are short-circuited
Thin Partitions between the front and the negative are broken.
Remember that Samsung\'s Note 7 smartphone is lithium?
Ion Heat Event
When we throw old equipment into the trash can, put it in the recycle bin, and even take them responsibly to the electronic device, they end up in troublewaste center.
There is no official data on the fires, but the evidence is conclusive.
Since the spring of 2018 alone, batteries have been suspected to be the cause of recycling fires in New York, Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Idaho, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.
In California, a recent survey of waste management facilities found that 83% of people had at least one fire in the past two years, of which 40% were caused by lithium. ion batteries.
According to statistics, the fire rate is very low
One of the 3,000 mobile device batteries processed by Cascade experienced a heat event.
But the result can be catastrophic when the battery lights up other materials.
In 2016, Shoreway Environmental Center, which serves Silicon Valley, suffered 4-
It suspected an alarm fire caused by lithium.
Ion batteries are not found in other garbage in their sorting system.
Fire lost $8. 5 million.
There is a lot of responsibility everywhere.
People should not throw batteries at random.
Electronic devices enter the bin.
The local government has yet to come up with a good way for us to hand over this common but dangerous material.
Tech media (including me) should write less shiny new stuff and more articles on how to keep the old stuff going for longer.
Some gadget makers, including Apple, are taking steps to make recycling easier.
But in the end, this is an environmental problem designed by the technology industry itself.
It\'s time for them to have it.
Lithium is bad enough.
Ion batteries are dangerous.
But often, gadgets designed to be light and portable make it particularly difficult for the battery to be removed.
Like a recycler, I spent the day with Flores --
In, in the cascade of Hernandez
Waste Company in Wisconsin
It receives a variety of electronic products from businesses that pay for wiping data and recycling
There were about 257,000 last year.
When it can, Cascade the refurbished equipment or harvest valuable parts.
When things were too old, Cascade took it apart and tried to salvage the goods.
Some of our favorite mobile devices are easier said than done.
From his old tablet, Flores-
Herndez showed me a 6-year-
Old iPad with broken screen.
Before it is sent to the shredder, he has to take out the battery and the shredder will separate the materials that can be meltedby hand.
I should have sat down.
The process took 40 minutes.
To get the battery, first of all, Flores-
Hernandez must remove the electronics above.
Step 1: He put the iPad at 100
Heat the plate for about 4 minutes to loosen the glue stuck to the screen.
Then there are broken glass, screen and dozens of small screws.
There is no indication that Apple products are more likely to catch fire than other devices (although Cascade says they have been the source of all fires since 2015 ).
But the ipad is harder to take apart.
Flores said: \"in the range of 1 to 10, I would say this is 8 or 9Hernandez.
He learned how to do this through training programs in the online repair community iFixit.
Apple and many other manufacturers have not provided instructions or analysis software to recyclers like Cascade.
Even for Apple\'s manufacturers, it\'s tricky to deal with these things: Apple stores in Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands all experienced battery fires in 2018.
About 30 minutes after the IPad surgery, the most subtle part came up: a glimpse of the battery stuck to the back of the iPad.
After heating the iPad again to loosen the glue, he used a series of plastic scraper to gently push the battery-
Flat like plastic comb, almost as wide as iPadout bit by bit. \"Don\'t bend it. Don\'t poke it.
Flores said, \"try to slow down. Hernandez.
I hold my breath
Our iPad won\'t explode. This time.
Gadgets with lithium
Ion batteries like vape pens and headphones are harder to detect in a pile of waste and harder to disassemble.
For example, Apple\'s wireless AirPods are called almost impossible to recycle by iFixit because they contain three batteries, each sealed inside the plastic.
Neil Peters, CEO of Cascade, says it\'s not just a security issueMichaud.
Sticking the components together and hiding the battery also reduces the profit of recycling.
For training, safety precautions and efforts to remove the iPad battery, Cascade will make about 50 cents to $1 on the item.
\"Labor and time are money,\" Peters-Michaud says.
\"I just don\'t understand why Apple doesn\'t include user and reusable design features --and-
\"The recycling community can benefit from the safe extension of product life,\" he said . \".
The risk is that devices like the old ipad can become unrecyclable, at least economically, for abandoned companies that don\'t get paid in other ways.
Today, companies can still make money by reselling the ipad.
But who will handle all the old iPads that are currently stuck in the drawer? \"We are reaching a turning point where separating materials is more expensive than recycling materials,\" Craig Boswell said . \", Common
Hobby International founder of e-commerce
Waste companies in Arizona, Illinois and Texas.
\"This applies not only to the iPad, but also to the design of most of the internal sealed batteries.
\"Gadgets don\'t need to be designed like this.
Samsung\'s flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone has a rechargeable battery in version 2014 that can be easily removed.
My old PalmPilot used two AAA alkaline batteries that just popped up.
The removable battery could have helped Apple avoid the disaster of slowing down the iphone due to wear --out batteries -
Then had to offer a discounted battery replacement service to restore our good reputation.
The method of sealing makes the electronics thinner, and the company says we want-
The removable battery requires an additional shield that takes up space.
Sealing in batteries with only a few years of battery life is also a way to force customers to upgrade, although tech giants have said they have not considered outdated plans in their designs.
Apple will not answer my question about its practice.
Compared to most big tech companies, Apple has done more on issues like clean energy and hazardous chemicals, but when designing products with recycling challenges, Apple is not alone.
Last year, Greenpeace rated the overall environmental impact of the business.
This includes the grade of \"extended product life\", a measure of how a product is designed for repair, reuse, and recycling.
Most companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Samsung, have category D products.
They can learn from HP and get the product life extension a of Greenpeace.
It produces products that are easy to upgrade and disassemble (including laptops and tablets with replaceable batteries) and extensively shares repair and Disassembly Instructions.
Gary Cook, a senior corporate activist at Greenpeace, said: \"Design maintenance has a very different impact on the life cycle of the product . \".
Some tech companies, including Apple, have been actively opposed.
This legislation, called \"Right to Repair\", requires companies to share information on how to disassemble the product.
Apple has made some public promises about recycling.
It provides a belt.
Back program, in its veterinary facility, it pays for the proper recycling of the product.
Apple didn\'t say how much of the material it produced was recoverable, but other recyclers told me it might just be a small part. An industry-
Last year, funding projects called call2cycle were collected.
7 million lithium
It says ion batteries represent the \"single digit percentage\" of all batteries sold in the United States\"S.
Last year, Apple said it was moving toward \"closing-
The \"circular\" supply chain of the product, in which it will one day make the product with recycled or renewable materials.
It is also developing robots that can recycle some products faster and more safely than humans.
Its latest product, Daisy, can disassemble 200 iPhones in an hour.
So far, there is only one Daisy robot (one second at work) and Apple hasn\'t said how many iPhones Daisy has recycled.
Recycling companies that handle thousands of different types of electronics say they suspect they will get a lot of benefits from robots that only take one thing apart.
Most of the people I \'ve interviewed in the recycling industry agree to have a better solution: go back to the removable battery.
\"You can have very elegant designs and high
\"Energy density,\" says Carl Smith, CEO of call2 cycle.
\"I don\'t think it\'s two concepts that are completely independent.
\"So, as a gadget critic, let me make it clear to the tech industry: give up your obsession with thin.
If that means we can easily replace the batteries and keep them for a longer period of time, we will be happy to put the electronics and some extra trash in the trunk
More confident that they will not ignite recycling hell in the end.
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