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Apple accused of scrapping usable devices

Thursday April 18, 2024. 10:25 PM , from Mac Daily News
The Daisy robot can disassemble up to 1.2 million phones each year, helping Apple recover more valuable materials for recycling. The company has offered to license the patents related to Daisy for researchers and other electronics manufacturers developing their own disassembly processes.
Even if the iPhones looked good enough for resale, Apple’s contract with its recycler GEEP explicitly required that every product it sent be shredded and destroyed.
Austin Carr for Bloomberg Businessweek:

In Apple’s view, these devices, the kind usually disposed of at its stores or collected from trade-ins when customers upgraded to a new model, were better off scrapped for their precious metals than refurbished. And Apple was scrapping tons: In its first couple years working with GEEP, the company shipped it more than 530,000 iPhones, 25,000 iPads and 19,000 Watches.
But not all of them ended up in the shredders. Products were disappearing from the facility, though nobody at GEEP seemed to notice or talk about it… Then came the surprise Apple audit. When corporate investigators arrived to search the space, an oversight right Apple included in its agreement, they discovered a series of alarming issues. Tons of gadgets had gone missing. There were data discrepancies in GEEP’s paperwork. And, tellingly, auditors found two bins of intact Watches in an off-camera section of the facility, something that’s contractually forbidden. Workers on the floor sensed their bosses were nervous but didn’t know why.
Apple soon accused GEEP of failing to recycle at least 99,975 items. Cellular and other device identifiers revealed iPhones that should have been crunched into croutons were instead reactivated by new users in China. In 2020, Apple sued GEEP in Ontario court for C$31 million ($22.6 million) for breach of contract, alleging a “carefully orchestrated scheme” wherein employees stole and diverted its products to third parties who fixed up and “resold them in the grey-market to unsuspecting consumers.”
When the lawsuits came to light, first reported in late 2020 by the Logic, a Canadian news outlet, industry observers were stunned. It wasn’t just the shocking scale of the purported heist; the incident implied that Apple was forcing a recycling partner to shred tens of thousands of iPhones that were apparently in prime condition for refurbishment.

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MacDailyNews Note: Apple in October 2020 alleged in a lawsuit that Canadian recycler GEEP Canada sold approximately 100,000 iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches, which the recycler had received to be taken apart and recycled, but Apple now appears to have abandoned the lawsuit. Read more in the full article here.

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