Smartphone Recycling: Manufacturers Make Progress, however More to Do

Smartphone makers have promised to do higher with regards to recycling and refurbishing their product, responding to stress from environmental activists.

AFP spoke to delegates on the Cell World Congress in Barcelona to search out out what progress has been made and what extra may very well be performed.

The place is the market?

After a robust begin within the early 2010s, the sector has regained momentum lately, each by way of reconditioned fashions that may be put again in the marketplace, and the recycling of plastics and uncommon metals that go into their manufacture.

In line with Persistence Market Analysis, 11% of smartphones offered worldwide are refurbished fashions, a decrease fee than different electronics however nonetheless rising.

This upward development is because of “improved methods of smartphone repair, filing, collection and online/offline sale,” PMR stated.

“More and more players are implementing recycling programs due to regulatory pressure and consumer pressure,” stated Thomas Husson, principal analyst at Forrester.

“We’re still at low rates, but it’s starting to take off,” he added.

However this progress shouldn’t be sufficient for environmental activists.

“Only 20% of all e-waste is recycled, when in reality we could recover a lot more,” stated Claudia Bosch of Catalan social justice marketing campaign group Setem.

“We could do a lot more,” stated Bosch, one of many organizers of the Cell Social Congress, held alongside the primary occasion, which focuses on human rights and sustainability.

Who’re the gamers?

Many corporations have emerged lately and entered the recycling market.

These embody Again Market, which sells refurbished electronics; Fairphone, which makes what is claimed to be probably the most repairable smartphone on the planet; and Recommerce, which sells refurbished smartphones, tablets and recreation consoles.

Now, even main gamers within the smartphone business are coming into this a part of the market. Each Apple and Samsung have pledged to extend their share of recycled merchandise and now have their very own recycling operations.

“The ability to recycle smartphones has become an important factor for all manufacturers, but also for operators,” Husson stated.

“Their image is at stake and everyone is trying to stand out.”

Thus in Barcelona, ​​the British community operator Vodafone introduced a partnership settlement with Recommerce for the recycling of its outdated fashions.

And final 12 months, French operator Orange pledged to extend the share of refurbished telephones offered in its shops from 2% to 10%.

What are the prospects?

Trade analysts count on the sector to see sturdy progress as a consequence of rising shopper demand for “green” merchandise. The slowing tempo of really progressive options in smartphones can also be making the refurbished market extra enticing.

Trade analysts Mordor Intelligence count on the refurbished smartphone market to develop 10% per 12 months by 2027, with a breakthrough within the Asian market, notably in India and Indonesia.

Equally, Persistence Market Analysis expects income within the cellular market to develop from the $49.4 billion (approx. Rs. 3,74,877 crore) recorded in 2020 to $143.8 billion (approx. 10,91,028 crores of rupees) in 2031.

What’s holding the market again?

Though analysts are optimistic, there are a selection of hurdles in the way in which, together with technical points, reminiscent of waste assortment.

As a result of if recycling is to be efficient, there have to be appreciable group behind it, Husson stated.

However different points could trigger customers to hesitate.

“More and more refurbished phones are being sold with warranties,” Husson stated. “But there are still concerns among consumers, who doubt the performance of the product.

And the business practices of manufacturers and operators themselves do not always favor the remanufacturing market, argues Bosch.

“There’s a shopper tradition that consistently bombards us with new provides, new improvements…

“There’s a lot of marketing that pushes us to throw things away, to change them for new ones.”

This aggressive advertising is a paradox within the face of makes an attempt by the primary market gamers to convey an environmental message.

“If we really care about the planet, we need to focus on product sustainability,” Husson stated.

However that, he added, goes in opposition to the mainstream enterprise mannequin, by which producers drive customers to repeatedly exchange their telephones with new fashions, a observe typically sponsored by the carriers themselves.


For particulars on the newest Nokia, Samsung, Lenovo and different product launches from Cell World Congress in Barcelona, ​​go to our MWC 2022 hub.

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