How Apple's Liam Gives iPhones A Greener Life

by Amée LaTour

Tech-heads everywhere were eager to see what new products Apple would unveil during its event on Monday. But the event wasn't only about new products — the company's heads discussed everything from the new iPhone SE to its environmental efforts. Lisa Jackson, the vice president of Apple's Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives department, shared a neat video of a robot named "Liam" on Monday to show one of the ways in which the company is working to reduce waste. What is Apple's Liam?

Liam is Apple's lean, mean recycling machine. This amazing robot does a couple of things. It deconstructs iPhones into component parts, but most impressive is its ability to scan the parts and know what they can be salvaged for, reported The Next Web. "There's no other machine in the world that does what Liam can do," Jackson said at Monday's event.

Through the Apple Renew program, people can either mail their old iPhones in or return them to a store for recycling. Parts from old iPhones may be used in new devices, but they can also be repurposed. According to ZDNet, the motherboards used in devices contain silver that can be reused in solar panels. Ninety-three percent of Apple facilities around the world run on renewable energy, the company said.

Liam is not the only environmental initiative Jackson discussed on Monday. She also noted that 99 percent of Apple's product packaging comes either from recycled paper or from a "sustainably managed forest." The company is working to reduce the amount of packaging it uses, she said.

Taking part in the Apple Renew program, and letting Liam get his mechanical hands on your old iPhone, is an environmental must. Devices like the iPhone contain toxic materials that can do harm to the environment if they wind up in a landfill. What is more, reusing materials like silver and tungsten from within old devices eliminates the need to mine for new resources, which helps preserve the planet's mineral supply.

The unveiling of Liam was perhaps as exciting for some Apple executives as the new product reveals on Monday; according to Mashable, which got an exclusive sneak peak at the robot ahead of Monday's event, few employees even knew about his existence before the event. With one billion iPhones in circulation, Liam could help salvage a whole lot of materials for reuse.