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Apple sues recycling company for stealing and reselling 100,000 iPhones, iPads and watches

Apple is suing former recycling partner GEEP Canada – now part of Quantum Lifecycle Partners – for allegedly stealing and reselling at least 103,845 iPhones, iPads and Watches that it was hired to dismantle. “At least 11,766 pounds of Apple devices left GEEP’s premises without being destroyed – a fact that GEEP itself confirmed,” reads part of Apple’s complaint, as reported by The logic (via AppleInsider).

Apple shipped the recycling company over 500,000 iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches between January 2015 and December 2017, according to The logichis report. When Apple conducted a review, it found that 1

8 percent of these devices still had access to the Internet via mobile networks. That 18 percent do not count Apple devices without mobile radio, so it is possible that an even higher percentage of the gadgets were resold.

Apple is seeking to raise at least $ 31 million (approximately $ 22.7 million) from its former partner. The recycling company denies any wrongdoing, but does not deny that it was a theft – it has reportedly filed a third-party case claiming that three employees stole the units on their own behalf. Apple disagrees and claims that these employees were in fact top management in the recycling company, according to The logic.

Apple's recycling robot

Apple’s recycling robot Daisy can disassemble nine different iPhone models to recover valuable materials.
Image: Apple Newsroom

Last year, humans left a record amount of e-waste that added up to 53.6 million tons of discarded phones, computers, appliances and other gadgets. Like other technology companies, Apple has tried to improve environmental practices, including an attempt to move recycling internally with its own dismantling robots Daisy and Dave, which are designed to recover iPhone components that traditional recyclers cannot.

However, the company is still dependent on other partners to recover valuable material from used devices, and from 2015 to 2018, GEEP Canada was one of them. Renovation and resale of units was also part of GEEP’s business. Although the company offered several e-waste management services during this period, it also explicitly stated on the website that the mission was to “encourage reuse whenever possible.”

But from Apple’s point of view, it would not have been OK to resell these devices. Just because the products could be resold on the gray market does not mean that they met Apple’s quality or safety standards. “Products sent for recycling are no longer sufficient to sell to consumers, and if they are rebuilt with counterfeit parts, they can cause serious safety issues, including electrical or battery defects,” the company said. The Verge.

Apple filed the complaint in January 2020, but it is known about the thefts since they were discovered between 2017 and 2018. Apple has not worked with GEEP Canada since.

In 2019, we published a report on how one poster child of recycling companies, Total Reclaim, advertised their ethical practices while actually sending hazardous waste abroad without following rules.

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