Apple wants to sell refurbished iPhones in India

iPhone 4

Apple has reportedly filed an application with the Environment Ministry’s Technical Review Committee (TRC), asking for permission to import and sell refurbished iPhone units in India. The company apparently proposed a similar plan in 2015 too, when it wanted to start vending secondhand iOS products in the country.

Back then, Apple wished to import 2.5 lakh used iPads and 1 lakh used iPhones into the country. If the government allows the company to go ahead, then it will set up a plant for renovating secondhand handsets from China. Developed nations have been rooting for less stringent rules which will enable liberal trade in refurbished products.

Why the Indian govt doesn’t like Apple’s plan

Import of e-waste, coming under the purview of the Hazardous Wastes Rules 2008, only permits junk to be shipped in by entities who specialize in recycling, reusing or reprocessing it. Apart from a nod from the TRC, they would also need a license issued to them by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. This prevents companies from dumping their e-waste into India.

Allowing Apple to import and vend refurbished iPhone or iPad units would require the Environment Ministry to relax these rules for the company. This would set a precedent for other brands and IT firms interested in bringing their obsolete or used products into the country. The government fears a flood of low-quality imports may enter the market if it relaxes the rules.

Apple argues back

Apple argues that its certified pre-owned (CPO) iPhone and other gadgets mustn’t be compared to regular refurbished mobiles, according to The Indian Express. Apparently, they shouldn’t be referred to as ‘secondhand’ either since they are emblazoned with new serial and IMEI numbers, have standard 1-year warranties and go through the same rigorous quality testing as new devices.

If the TRC gives Apple the green flag, it plans to import ‘hundreds of thousands of units’ yearly. It also insists that its refurbished iPhone handsets will be cheaper and could replace low-end mobiles, thus actually reducing e-waste.