In October, Earth911 reported that Sims Recycling Solutions, the world’s largest electronics recycler, received its first iPad for recycling at its Sacramento facility. How many more iPads have arrived at the facility in subsequent months, especially after the iPad’s 2 release on March 11?
None, says plant manager James Cuppet.
AERC Recycling Solutions, another electronics recycling company, has not received any iPads at its San Francisco Bay Area facility, according to facility supervisor Amante Ramelb.
“I think the majority of people are participating in take-back programs or selling them on eBay,” Cuppet says.
The market is indeed hot for used first generation iPads. IPad owners can sell their tablet for $300-700 on eBay. They can also trade in their iPad for store credit at Target and Best Buy or for cash at websites like Gazelle, NextWorth and USell.
Offering $200-400 for iPads in good working condition, electronic buy-back company Gazelle saw a tremendous increase in iPad trade-ins with the release of the iPad 2.
“The week prior to the announcement [of the new iPad2], Gazelle saw an average of 10 iPad trade-ins per day. Gazelle saw an increase of more than 2,400 iPad trades in the 24 hours after the announcement,” says Gazelle spokesperson Emily Koruda. “Trades have dropped since the big rush when the product came out, but more than 10,000 trade-ins came in between the announcement and the launch of the iPad 2.”
The trend of re-selling and reusing first generation iPads is not only good for the environment – it promotes reuse before recycling – but it’s also good for recyclers.
“Like most Apple products, their [iPad’s] hard to recycle,” Cuppet says. “Apple is doing a good job reducing the amount of toxics in their products, but they are still very difficult to dismantle.”
The iPad’s thick glass and durable metal frame make it difficult to disassembly the product into its component parts and retrieve its lithium-ion battery, according to Kyle Wiens, CEO of online repair manual iFixit. His company has developed instructions to take apart and repair iPads.
The advantage of the iPad’s sturdy construction is that the tablet does not crack or break easily, which could be a reason many recycling facilities aren’t receiving unusable iPads turned in for recycling yet, Wiens says.
An iPad’s lifetime will depend on the life of its battery, and Apple claims the batteries will last 300-500 cycles. With one cycle lasting 10 hours, Wiens estimates that it will be several years before we start seeing hundreds of expired iPads turning up at recycling facilities.