Apple is at odds with its former recycling partner GEEP Canada for allegedly stealing and reselling at least 103,845 iPhones, iPads, and watches that it was hired to disassemble.
Between January 2015 and December 2017, Apple reportedly sent the recycling firm, which is now a part of Quantum Lifecycle Partners, over 500,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. However, through an audit, Apple discovered that 18 percent of those devices were still accessing the internet through cellular networks. However, the 18 percent didn’t include Apple devices without a cellular radio, so it’s possible that even more devices were resold.
“At least 11,766 pounds of Apple devices left GEEP’s premises without being destroyed – a fact that GEEP itself confirmed,” read a portion of Apple’s lawsuit, which was filed in January 2020, despite the company knowing about the thefts since sometime between 2017 and 2018. However, Apple has not worked with GEEP Canada since.
Reselling devices that are meant to be recycled poses a problem since these devices no longer meet Apple’s quality or safety standard.
“Products sent for recycling are no longer adequate to sell to consumers and if they are rebuilt with counterfeit parts they could cause serious safety issues, including electrical or battery defects,” Apple explained to The Verge.
The tech giant is seeking 31 million CAD (roughly $22.7 million) in its suit. While the Canadian recycling firm denies all wrongdoing, it doesn’t deny theft took place. In fact, the company revealed in a third-party suit that three employees had stolen the devices on their own behalf. Apple believes that these employees were in senior management at the recycling firm.
While GEEP does offer refurbishment and reselling of devices, their agreement with Apple was only to utilize its e-waste management services.