The fact that a lot of electronic waste disappears underground or ends up in landfills is not entirely true.
E-waste is not necessarily broken down, as a large portion of it is still functional. Many of these products are refurbished and resold. Another part actually ends up in all sorts of places in the world.
For example, look at the United Nations Environment Programme; In 2009 of the 215 tons of electronics exported to Ghana, 70% were used electronics, of the 70%, 20% had to be repaired, only 10.5% of the 215 tons could not be salvaged
Worldwide, about 17% of all e-waste we make is recycled; A much larger part is repaired and reused.
Now about Apple.
And know that 98% only applies to iPhones brought from Apple itself. How many iPhones will be fetched in percentage terms of production numbers?
What you are trying to say here escapes me. The Gross Environmental Progress Report, the iPhone 12 Product Environmental Report, states that 98% of all trace minerals in the iPhone 12 come from recycled sources, and not that they’re just made from recycled materials that Apple itself uses from its used products.
The article you linked to is really crazier, and continues to insist that they be reused, and as it turns out, the vast majority of products returned will be refurbished, to be used again by someone else. The rest is recycled by Apple’s recycling partners. I don’t understand the point of this article, they say it’s a bad idea to recycle everything at once, while this is not standard practice for every Apple recycling partner. This works, as also emphasized in the article, the principle of reduce, reuse and then recycle. Just because they don’t have the numbers, and there’s a nice decoder in the lab, meaningless conclusions are drawn.
Again, Apple does not recycle itself, as recyclers do, but Apple works closely with them to develop a process suitable for each Apple product. Apple also makes disassembly manuals by recyclers to do so as safely as possible, and indicate which materials can still be recovered from the individual components.
Finally, Apple has been removing harmful chemicals from its materials since 2006 to make recycling as safe as possible; BFR and PVC free cables, you can recycle them without releasing harmful substances, and no other manufacturer does.