Apple’s Legal Issues with a So-Called Recycler

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2020 | Product Liability Defense

Companies in various industries employ the help of recycling companies when returned, and outdated inventory requires disposal. Large enterprises such as smartphone providers, entrust these businesses to handle their discarded products ethically and environmentally-friendly.

Apple is one of the more prominent companies where devices are routinely outdated. Some products are refurbished after extensive testing, while some deemed no longer adequate for customer use are designated for recycling. Should someone get their hands on them after leaving Apple’s headquarters and rebuild with different parts, electrical or battery issues could create serious risks to users.

A Recycler Becomes Refurbisher?

From 2015 to 2017, the company retained GEEP, which had been recently acquired by Quantum Lifecycle Partners, to remove and subsequently dispose of more than a half-million of their products between January 2015 and December 2017. The specific breakdown includes:

  • iPhones – 531,966
  • iPads – 25,673
  • Watches – 19,277

The Canadian recycling company removed the items from Apple’s premises but allegedly did not dispose of all of them. Specifically, nearly 12,000 pounds or 100,000 devices were not recycled. Instead, employees allegedly had them refurbished on their own and subsequently re-sold.

Following suspicions, Apple conducted an audit that revealed 18 percent of the recycling materials were kept, not thrown out. Searching serial numbers uncovered a little more than 100,000 active devices. The Tim Cook-led technological giant subsequently filed suit for $22.7 million.

Quantum Lifecycle Partners is not part of the legal dispute as it acquired the recycling company three months before the legal action. According to reports, GEEP has allegedly identified three staff members responsible for the unauthorized refurbishes and wants them to cover all costs related to the lawsuit.