Apple is suing a recycling firm for $23 million, claiming it resold iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches instead of breaking them down



iPhone cases at a recycling plant in Austin, Texas. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge


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iPhone cases at a recycling plant in Austin, Texas. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge

  • Apple is suing a Canadian recycling company that it says resold upward of 100,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches instead of breaking them down.
  • The recycling company says that theft of the devices was carried out by three “rogue” employees and that it wasn’t aware of it.
  • Apple is unconvinced by the defense, arguing in its suit that “GEEP’s officers and directors knew or ought to have known about the scheme.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple is suing a Canadian recycling company that it accuses of reselling upward of 100,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple watches.

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The suit, reported by The Logic on Wednesday, was filed in January against the Ontario-based recycling firm Global Electric Electronic Processing, which Apple contracted in 2014 to break down its products. 

Apple noticed the missing devices after an audit of a warehouse indicated devices were being taken to parts of the building not covered by CCTV. Apple ran a check on the serial numbers of all the devices it sent to GEEP and found roughly 18% were still active on carrier networks.

Apple said in the suit that it sent more than 530,000 iPhones, 25,000 iPads, and 19,200 Apple Watches to GEEP from 2015 and 2017 to be broken down. Apple said not all of its devices connected to carrier networks and so the real figure of resold devices was likely to be higher.

The tech giant is suing GEEP for 31 million Canadian dollars, or $23 million, plus any money it made from reselling devices.

“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

Apple sues recycling firm for stealing and reselling 100,000 iPhones, iPads and Watches

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

Apple sent the recycling firm over 500,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches between January 2015 and December 2017, according to The Logic’s report. When Apple did an audit, it discovered 18 percent of those devices were still accessing the internet through cellular networks. That 18 percent doesn’t count Apple devices without a cellular radio, so it’s possible an even higher percentage of the gadgets were resold.

Apple seeks to obtain at least $31 million Canadian dollars (roughly $22.7 million USD) from its former partner. The recycling firm denies all wrongdoing, but it doesn’t deny there was a theft — it has reportedly filed a third-party suit claiming three employees stole the devices on their own behalf. Apple disagrees, arguing that these employees were in fact senior management at the recycling firm, 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 behind a record amount of e-waste adding up to 53.6 million metric tons of discarded phones, computers, appliances, and other gadgets. Like other tech companies, Apple has been trying to improve its environmental practices, including an effort to move recycling in-house with its own disassembly robots Daisy and Dave, which are designed to recover iPhone components that traditional recyclers can’t.

However, the company still relies on other partners to recover valuable material from