Macbook Pro and Air laptops produced from 2018-2020 onwards are almost impossible to refurbish for the second-hand market, with equipment in good condition ending up destroyed in recycling centres because of a security chip created by Apple.
Equipped with the now infamous T2 security chip, Macbook Pro and Air laptops produced since 2018 cannot be accessed without the passcode set by the original user. Although, the mechanism was introduced primarily to protect data stored on the devices from unauthorized access, that code is required even after resetting them to factory settings, a measure that involves deleting any settings or data left behind by the previous user. Apple could also explain this practice as a measure to discourage the theft of Macbook laptops, which cannot be revalued on the black market.
A more mischievous explanation would be that Apple is trying to undermine the second-hand market by any means possible, in the idea that devices thus resold undermine the American company’s future profits by selling new equipment.
Responsible for storing Touch ID passwords and biometric signatures in encrypted form, the T2 security chip has proven impossible to bypass directly. Thus, if the original user did not follow Apple’s recommendations for disabling the “Find My” location feature, i.e., using the Erase Assistant utility before handing over the device, simply using the factory reset option is followed by locking at the login screen. The same problem occurs if the password is forgotten or misplaced for any reason.
Far from addressing the problem of unnecessarily generated e-waste, Apple has integrated T2 security chip functions at the chipset level, with new Apple M1 processor laptops having an even lower potential to recover used components.
While individual owners are somewhat more careful about keeping the security code set when first using the device and going through all the steps for resale, private companies and public institutions (e.g. schools, ministries) are more likely to ship entire batches of equipment in good technical condition but unusable because of the “traps” left by Apple.