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Apple sues ex-recycling partner, claiming it stole and re-sold 100,000 devices

Apple is suing a company hired to assist in recycling efforts, for allegedly reselling at least 100,000 iPhone, iPad and Apple Watches earmarked for teardown.

In a somewhat bizarre story, Apple has filed suit against GEEP Canada, an ex-recycling partner that had been enlisted to strip down the products in question.

According to a report from The Logic (via Apple Insider), Apple’s suit alleges that GEEP Canada – which now belongs to Quantum Lifecycle Partners – simply did not do as asked.

“At least 11,766 pounds of Apple devices left GEEP’s premises without being destroyed – a fact that GEEP itself confirmed,” the lawsuit says.

GEEP alleges that the 103,845 mentioned in the suit were actually stolen and resold by “rogue” employees, who set about selling the products without the knowledge of their employers.

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How did Apple know? And where did it get the figures from? Well, it found that 18% of the 500,000 devices it had sent to GEEP were still active on cellular networks. You have to get up pretty early in the morning to outwit Apple at the best of times, but this is schoolboy stuff.

Given Apple doesn’t count the devices it can’t identify through the networks, it’s entirely plausible that a much larger number of phones, tablets and watches were recycled to line the pockets of the alleged perpetrators.

Apple is also challenging Rogue’s assertion that the thefts were carried out by rank and file members of the team. In fact, Apple says it has reason to believe the three were senior management figures at the firm.

Apple is seeking a $31m CAD (£18m) payout as part of the suit, with GEEP denying wrongdoing. The company has also said it has issued a writ against those employees accursed of the thefts that took place between 2015 and 2017.

Given Apple has worked super hard to boost its environmentally friendliness in recent years, especially when it comes to recycling rare earth materials found within its products, it is unsurprising the company is fuming and taking such strong action.

It seems, if Apple wanted these devices to be resold, it would have done through via the refurbished section of its store. The fact is that Apple says the devices don’t meet its high standards anymore.

In a statement to The Verge, the company said: “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.”

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