Apple sues recycler for allegedly reselling 100,000 devices it was hired to scrap

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Apple alleges in a lawsuit that Geep Canada sold approximately 100,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches, which the recycler had received to be stripped down and recycled.


Apple's recycling robot, Daisy


Apple has long been working to increase how much it recycles, and even as it attempts to move more of that process in house, it still continues to rely on certain partner companies. Since 2014, that's included Geep Canada, the electronics recycling firm which Apple is reportedly now suing.

According to The Logic, Apple estimates that Geep Canada stole around 100,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches that it had been hired to recycle.

Geep does not deny the thefts, but has filed a counter suit claiming that they were conducted by three "rogue" employees without the knowledge of the company. Apple argues that these employees were in fact senior management at the firm.

Although the case has only now been publicly revealed, Apple filed its suit in January 2020 while Geep filed its countersuit in July. Seemingly, Apple discovered the alleged thefts at the end of 2017 or start of 2018, and at some point after that ceased working with Geep. In September 2019, Geep Canada merged with other firms to form Quantum Lifecycle Partners.

Apple's suit states that the company shipped 531,966 iPhones to Geep Canada for recycling between January 2015 and December 2017, along with 25,673 iPads, and 19,277 Apple Watches. Apple then audited Geep's warehouse and, according to The Logic, learned that some of its devices were being stored away from those of other firms.

Discovering that these areas were not covered by security cameras, Apple then checked the serial numbers of all devices it had shipped to the company. Reportedly, approximately 18% or 103,845 of all those devices were discovered by Apple to be active on carrier networks. Apple claims that the number of stolen devices will be considerably higher, since non-LTE ones wouldn't be shown.

"At least 11,766 pounds of Apple devices left GEEP's premises without being destroyed - a fact that GEEP itself confirmed," said Apple in its suit

Apple is seeking full recovery of the profits made from the resale of these devices, plus $31 million Canadian ($22.7 million US). The new company Quantum Lifecycle Partners told The Logic that "the lawsuit is between Geep and Apple and we have no knowledge regarding the details."

According to Geep's court filings, the company is looking for the three employees to pay damages and costs, if Apple wins. The company says that it suffered "extensive businesses losses" because of the thefts and Apple's terminating of the contract.

Recycling is one of the key efforts Apple cites in its annual environmental report on how it's operating its facilities, and engineering its devices.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,338member
    Surely if these devices were good enough to resell, it would be better to resell them than recycle them. It's always more eco-friendly to keep using an existing phone than buy a new one.
    maltzalphafoxgoodbyeranchwilliamlondonlkrupptokyojimuplanetary paulivanh80s_Apple_Guycrowley
  • Reply 2 of 33
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 830member
    elijahg said:
    Surely if these devices were good enough to resell, it would be better to resell them than recycle them. It's always more eco-friendly to keep using an existing phone than buy a new one.
    Yup!

    Reduce > Reuse > Recyle.

    But, that's not what Geep was contracted to do so it's still a violation of that agreement.
    lkruppdewmejony0patchythepiratejahbladeviclauyycJWSCrepressthisBart YRayz2016
  • Reply 3 of 33
    n2macsn2macs Posts: 81member
    elijahg said:
    Surely if these devices were good enough to resell, it would be better to resell them than recycle them. It's always more eco-friendly to keep using an existing phone than buy a new one.
    That’s not the point. The phones could’ve had unseen damage or other problems. They were probably repaired then sold. The company is responsible for its employees actions. There is no way that much product left their warehouses without management’s knowledge. This should be a open and shut case.
    williamlondondewmejony0patchythepiratejahbladeviclauyycAlex1NfahlmanrepressthisBart Y
  • Reply 4 of 33
    XedXed Posts: 1,030member
    elijahg said:
    Surely if these devices were good enough to resell, it would be better to resell them than recycle them. It's always more eco-friendly to keep using an existing phone than buy a new one.
    Addressing a different point than has already been made, maybe they were usable, but reselling something doesn't mean they're usable. There's a wide range of honest people selling something that they list as broken to dishonest people selling something broken that they list as working.
    williamlondonBeatsAlex1NEsquireCatsBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 33
    This is due to Apple's repair policies more than anything else. Apple tells customers that their iPhones must be replaced even if they could be repaired by a competent technician. This is why all of Apple's claims of being "green" are rubbish. Reuse is the best form of recycling. This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.
    alphafoxwilliamlondonlkrupptokyojimumuthuk_vanalingamelijahg80s_Apple_Guyprismatics
  • Reply 6 of 33
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    That's a great business model till you get caught, get paid to recycle them, and get paid by selling them. Jeez!
    randominternetpersonjahbladeAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 33
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,741member
    This is due to Apple's repair policies more than anything else. Apple tells customers that their iPhones must be replaced even if they could be repaired by a competent technician. This is why all of Apple's claims of being "green" are rubbish. Reuse is the best form of recycling. This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.
    You're basing that off of what?  This article?  

    No one knows the conditions of these items when they were to be recycled.  Obviously, they could have been repaired since they're working, but it doesn't mean they would have been up to Apple's standards for Apple to sell directly to consumers.  

    Apple does not want to repair an EOL'd iPhone5 and re-sell it, let alone give it to some 3rd-party technician to refurbish.  Why?  Because the customer that buys that "recycled" iPhone5 will blame Apple for it not working properly, or not being able to update it to a current OS.  You know that will be the case... but no.... it all has to be about you.
    auxioGG1ronnjony0mwhitejahbladeviclauyycAlex1NfahlmanBart Y
  • Reply 8 of 33
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,335member
    sflocal said:
    This is due to Apple's repair policies more than anything else. Apple tells customers that their iPhones must be replaced even if they could be repaired by a competent technician. This is why all of Apple's claims of being "green" are rubbish. Reuse is the best form of recycling. This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.
    Because the customer that buys that "recycled" iPhone5 will blame Apple for it not working properly, or not being able to update it to a current OS.
    This.

    But the Apple hater/clickbait crowd won't bother/care to actually think things through to the point of how Apple should handle the support (and potential lawsuits) for devices which have unknown defects.  That's how they ended up on the blind belief path in the first place.

    Apple does have a refurbished product section for devices which can be repaired and resold, so clearly these devices had problems which go beyond that.
    edited October 2020 GG1ronnDogpersonBeatsviclauyycAlex1NBart YRayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 33
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,735member
    As I understand it, your employees are representatives of your company, so it’s irrelevant if it was a few “rogue”individuals. I suspect it will come down to where the money ended up. If it in whole or part, ended up in the companies pocket, then the company is at fault. It might be different if these individuals took the devices without the companies knowledge and kept the money. In that case they would be stealing from the company. However even then, I suspect the company would be liable for violating, or allowing their employees to violate, their contract with Apple. 
    ronnmwhiteJWSCAlex1NBart YSpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 33
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,834member
    This sounds like an open & shut case since the perpetrator of the crime has already admitted guilt. A lot of folks like to complain that Apple is getting too large and powerful, but when Apple places its trust in an outside business partner and that partner engages in fraudulent activity that damages Apple, you can't blame Apple for bringing more stuff back in-house. Blaming it on so-called rogue employees and trying to play a shell game with a new partner arrangement doesn't take away the stink that GEEP, and now Quantum Lifecycle Partners, has all over it. 

    The recyclability of the items in question is completely irrelevant to the corrupt business dealings and the fraud that was committed against Apple. 
    edited October 2020 DAalsethronnjony0mwhiteAlex1NBart YSpamSandwichRayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 33
    If Geep is in any way a part of the new Quantum organization then Quantum is very likely liable.  Just like Bayer is still dealing with the Monsanto lawsuits related to RoundUp herbicide issues.  Merging, getting purchased or reorganizing doesn’t generally remove liability for the new combined entity.
    jony0Alex1NBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 33
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 83member
    This is due to Apple's repair policies more than anything else. Apple tells customers that their iPhones must be replaced even if they could be repaired by a competent technician. This is why all of Apple's claims of being "green" are rubbish. Reuse is the best form of recycling. This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.

    Facts don't care about your feelings. The firm didn't do its job by violating the terms of its agreement with Apple. And who's to say "reuse" is better than "recycle". As far as I knew, they are equally valid ways of being "in the best interest of the planet".
    mwhiteAlex1NfahlmanBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 33
    Step 1: get paid to collect inventory to trash
    Step 2: get paid to sell inventory
    Step 3: profit! Get it?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 33
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,216member
    This is due to Apple's repair policies more than anything else. Apple tells customers that their iPhones must be replaced even if they could be repaired by a competent technician. This is why all of Apple's claims of being "green" are rubbish. Reuse is the best form of recycling. This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.

    Please explain this?

    This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.


    This company was hired to strip down and recycle 100K iPhones. Leave your personal problem with Apple's repair policies aside.

    How was re-selling them without Apple's knowledge considered them doing their job? I am not sure about you but if you are contracted/hired to perform a job and you do the opposite of that job, you are not doing your job.. hahaha like ...what?!


    Alex1NfahlmanBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 33
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,342member
    Companies sign contracts with recyclers to properly scrap components all the time.  Sometimes, the devices are prototypes, test samples, customer returns, etc.  

    Their usability is irrelevant.   The contract was to scrap them, not to profit from Apple essentially giving them the units to be recycled or otherwise disposed.  

    It is a shame.  No one has any integrity, any more.  
    fahlmanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 33
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    elijahg said:
    Surely if these devices were good enough to resell, it would be better to resell them than recycle them. It's always more eco-friendly to keep using an existing phone than buy a new one.
    They weren’t hired to resell anything (if the lawsuit is to be taken at face value). They were only hired to recycle the materials.
    Alex1NfahlmanBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 33
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,532member
    This is due to Apple's repair policies more than anything else. Apple tells customers that their iPhones must be replaced even if they could be repaired by a competent technician. This is why all of Apple's claims of being "green" are rubbish. Reuse is the best form of recycling. This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.

    Yeah Apple doesn't care about the planet. If they did they'd have recycling programs for their electronics and use renewable energy.

    Also "greedy Apple" should be giving these broken iPhones away to poor developers.
    fahlmanwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 18 of 33
    fahlmanfahlman Posts: 730member
    This is due to Apple's repair policies more than anything else. Apple tells customers that their iPhones must be replaced even if they could be repaired by a competent technician. This is why all of Apple's claims of being "green" are rubbish. Reuse is the best form of recycling. This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.
    Apple's repair policies are only relevant if the device is covered by the limited warranty or AppleCare. If it is not covered by either of these you are welcome to find a competent technician to repair your device and Apple can't stop you. Stop telling half truths.

    This recycling firm was not doing their job, no matter what you want to believe. Their job was to recycle the devices, not resell them, as is evident when you referred to them as "this recycling firm".
    edited October 2020 XedEsquireCatsBart YBeatswatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 19 of 33
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,188member
    This is due to Apple's repair policies more than anything else. Apple tells customers that their iPhones must be replaced even if they could be repaired by a competent technician. This is why all of Apple's claims of being "green" are rubbish. Reuse is the best form of recycling. This recycling firm was actually doing its job. It just happened that the way they did it was not in Apple's best interest even if it was in the best interest of the planet.
    Whereby Apple's repair policy is that you get a safe and useful lifespan from the device in return.

    I for one want a phone that fully functions and isn't going to pose a threat of explosion.

    (Might also add that Apple publishes all of this information in their sustainability report, no one else seems to think the content of that report is 'rubbish')
    edited October 2020 Bart YBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 33
    xbitxbit Posts: 303member
    Capitalism 101: Why repair something broken when you can sell the consumer a new device?
    watto_cobra
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