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Lawsuit exposes Apple’s recycling program

Apple recycling robot.

In January, Apple filed a lawsuit against Canadian recycling company GEEP, claiming that they violated their contract. The tech giant accuses GEEP of reselling their products, instead of shredding them like they were supposed to.

According to the lawsuit, no less than 100,000 iPhones and iPads that were meant to be destroyed are still in use. Many of those devices that were resold by GEEP employees were reactivated on mobile networks in China. Apple is suing the recycling company and the downstream device reseller for $30 million Canadian deriving from loss of profits from underground sales and harm to Apple’s brand.

In recent years, Apple has announced it was taking major steps to reduce its environmental impact and go carbon neutral by 2030. The company’s trade-in program allows costumers to turn in their old devices, where they will be given to a new owner, for a newer device. If the device is not in the condition to be resold they will be recycled, according to Apple.

Apple ad for recycling products.

This lawsuit has called into question Apple’s recycling program and its impact on the environment. When the tech company sends old devices to recycling companies the companies are contractually obligated to completely shred the devices and do not allow recyclers to save any of the materials to be repurposed. The mining for the minerals used in the devices and the amount of energy required to make the products can have harmful effects on the earth.

If at least 100,000 devices that were sent to be destroyed were still in a condition that they could be resold then it seems that Apple is shredding reusable products. However, if Apple reused those products to reduce the amount of mining and energy it uses it would decrease the environmental impact of the business.

Instead, the tech giant gets rid of the old devices to make it easier for the company to sell new expensive products with no care for the impact it could have on the environment.

Original Article: Albergotti, Reed. “Apple Says It Never ‘Recycles’ Old Devices If They Can Still Be Used. Its Lawsuit against a Canadian Recycler Suggests Otherwise.” 14 Oct. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/07/apple-geep-iphone-recycle-shred/.

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