December 15th, 2015

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

iphone recyclingREUTERS/Spencer Selvidge

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Apple is suing a Canadian recycling company, claiming it re-sold upwards of 100,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple watches.

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

Apple noticed the missing devices after an audit of the warehouse, which revealed devices were being taken to parts of the building not covered by CCTV. It then 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 claimed in the suit it sent that more than 530,000 iPhones, 25,000 iPads, and 19,200 Apple Watches to GEEP to be broken down between 2015 and 2017. Apple notes that some, not all of its devices connect to carrier networks, so the real figure of re-sold devices is likely to be higher.

The tech giant is suing GEEP for $31 million Canadian ($23 million USD) plus any money it made from allegedly re-selling 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 or battery defects," an Apple spokesperson told The Verge. Apple also recuperates some materials like cobalt from recycling to use in future devices.

GEEP's admits the re-selling took place, but places the blame on three "rogue" employees who it claims sold the devices to another recycling company called Whitby Recycling, which in turn re-sold the devices to consumers in China.

GEEP claims that by the time the theft came to light two of the three employees had already resigned. It terminated the third, and contends it made no money from the re-sold devices.

Apple however maintains the employees involved in the theft were members of senior management. "GEEP's officers and directors knew or ought to have known about the scheme," it said, per The Logic.

Neither Apple nor GEEP were immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

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