Apple has filed suit against a Canadian company it hired to recycle its devices, claiming it instead stole and resold more than 100,000 iPads, iPhones and Apple Watches.
The tech giant is taking legal action against Ontario-based Geep Canada, which it paid to dismantle and recycle over 570,000 Apple devices between 2015 and 2017.
Investigators found that nearly 20 percent of those devices were never gutted for parts, but were stored in an area not covered by security cameras and sold off.
Looking up the gadgets’ serial numbers, Apple determined many were still connected to Apple servers via mobile networks.
That tally doesn’t count Apple devices without a cellular radio, so the total number of devices could be even higher.
The company is seeking at least $22.7 million from Geep, in addition to any profits made from reselling the devices.
Scroll down for video
In court filings, Apple claims that, rather than strip them for parts, Geep Canada resold more than 100,000 iPads, iPhones and Apple Watches between 2015 and 2017. The tech giant is seeking $22.7 million, plus any profits from the pilfered products
It’s not just the money that’s the issue, a company spokesperson told The Verge.
‘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.’
In court filings from January, Apple said at least 11,766 pounds of its devices left Geep’s premises without being destroyed, according to The Logic.
Geep doesn’t deny the theft occurred but insists three unscrupulous employees were responsible and has filed a separate suit against them.
Cobalt, tin, tungsten and other elements are recouped from old iPhones for reuse. Geep insists three unscrupulous employees were responsible for the scheme and has filed a separate suit against them
Apple maintains the alleged malfeasants were senior management so their actions were tantamount to company policy.
It has ended its relationship with Geep, which became part of Quantum Lifecycle Partners in September 2019.
The new company maintains it is not involved in the suit ‘and has no knowledge of it beyond what is publicly known,’
‘The Apple lawsuit was a liability that Geep Canada maintained and Quantum didn’t assume,’ it said in a statement on the QLP website
‘The facility in question [ in Barrie, Ontario] has undergone significant changes in staffing procedures and systems since Quantum acquired the assets. The case is before the courts and nothing has been proven or settled.’
E-waste has become a mounting problem, rising more than 21 percent in the past five years as consumers flock to the latest releases.
In 2019 alone, some 58 million tons of discarded phones, laptops, printers, TVs, smart toothbrushes and other electronics equipment were thrown out, according to UN report.
E-WASTE FIGURES BY CONTINENT
Asia: 46.4 per cent
Americas: 24.4 per cent
Europe: 22.3 per cent
Africa: 5.4 per cent
Less than a fifth of those machines were recycled.
In the past two years, Apple has unveiled ‘Daisy’ and ‘Dave,’ in-house recycling robots programmed to recoup more than a dozen elements from the iPhone’s Taptic Engine, such as aluminum, tin, cobalt and tungsten.
The robots can strip 200 old iPhones an hour, but Apple still needs to partner with third-party vendors to reach its recycling goals.
Today, The MacBook Air and Mac mini used completely recycled aluminum.
And, in a first for a smartphone, all iPhones released in the past year were made with recycled content, including 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in the Taptic Engine.
According to Reuters, Apple’s eventual goal is to become a ‘closed-loop’ manufacturer, eliminating the need to mine for any ore for its products.