Apple has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against GEEP Canada, its former recycling partner which is now part of Quantum Lifecycle Partners. The smartphone giant is accusing the company of reselling at least 103,845 devices that it was supposed to dismantle. The number also includes smartwatches. According to the suit, GEEP received over 500,000 iPhones, Apple Watches, and iPads to destroy.
This happened between January 2015 and December 2017. However, Apple did an audit thereafter and discovered that in fact some of these devices were still active. They were accessing the Internet through cellular networks, something that raised concern that devices meant for dismantling were resold to unknowing consumers.
Apple claims that GEEP illegally benefited from its devices and it’s, therefore, demanding payment of roughly $22 million to settle the suit. Nonetheless, the recycling firm has denied any wrongdoing.
However, GEEP said that it’s possible that some of the devices sent to it for dismantling may have been stolen. As a matter of fact, the Canadian firm has filed a third-party suit accusing three employees of stealing devices meant to be destroyed. GEEP also notes that the employees sued are high-level senior managers who work at the firm.
Recycling is a key part of dealing with electronic waste. As more and more people continue to own digital devices, the amount of e-waste has also increased massively. Last year alone, humans left behind over 54 million tons of e-waste that needed recycling. This is a huge number and as a result, tech companies like Apple and others have been putting in place measures to improve their environmental responsiveness.
Part of these measures involves a lot of recycling. Although Apple has traditionally used third-party companies like GEEP Canada to do this, it has also tried to develop the capacity needed to recycle in-house. The company has in fact developed intelligent de-assembly robots designed to recover and recycle iPhone components better than third-party recycling companies.
Despite this, the smartphone maker still relies heavily on third-party companies to get the job done. Between 2015 and 2018, GEEP Canada was the main third-party firm working to recycle and dismantle Apple’s devices. But it seems, based on the lawsuit filed by the American company, that it didn’t live up to Apple’s expectations.
Apple also argues that reselling these products was simply not okay. Although most of these devices are good phones that would typically work great, they don’t meet Apple’s “quality and safety” standards. Apple also notes that it believes all products sent for dismantling aren’t adequate to sell to consumers.
The American company argues that if such devices are propped up using “counterfeit” or substandard components, then they will pose serious safety risks to users. It’s based on this that the smartphone maker decided to sue GEEP Canada. The American tech giant filed the first complaint in January 2020 and is hoping for a quick resolution to the matter.