Sustainability has been a key part of Apple’s messaging in recent years, but a new report outlines some apparent issues with the company’s recycling process.

According to Bloomberg, the tech giant has regularly sent “tens of thousands” of old iPhones to Barrie, Ontario-based shredding company GEEP Inc. for destruction. Altogether, Apple has shipped GEEP more than 530,000 iPhones, 25,000 iPads, and 19,000 Watches for shredding over the past few years. Per the publication, Apple’s contract with GEEP explicitly required that every product it sent was to be destroyed, as they were “better off scrapped for their precious metals than refurbished.”

Another reason Apple does this is because there are limitations with its existing recycling robot, Daisy. As Bloomberg explains, Daisy can only dismantle around 200 units per hour, which works out to nearly 1.2 million recycled iPhones per year. While that might sound like a lot, Apple sells that many iPhones in just 48 hours. Therefore, automation isn’t enough for Apple’s recycling needs, including companies like GEEP.

However, this presents its own issues. Apple sued GEEP in 2020 for allegedly stealing around 100,000 devices that were supposed to be destroyed, which, in turn, has also highlighted its inconsistency with recycling.

Oddly, though, Bloomberg notes that there’s since been no update on the lawsuit, and the outlet even questions why Apple would expose some of its otherwise secretive recycling business in this way “only to let the matter rest there.” In response to Bloomberg, Apple simply touted its “industry-leading recycling program,” while GEEP declined to comment.

Speaking to BloombergiFixit co-founder Kyle Wiens argued that it should be illegal for Apple to send all of these devices to be destroyed, especially since there are parts inside of them that he and other repair specialists would be willing to purchase. To that point, he even said the GEEP workers who stole and resold iPhones “were doing God’s work.”

While it remains to be seen what may happen with Apple’s recycling (and shredding) efforts, the company has committed publicly to achieving 100 percent carbon neutrality for its supply chain and products by 2030. The tech giant is set to host its next big keynote at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, so it will likely provide an update on its sustainability efforts there.

Source: Bloomberg

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