The rush for new smartphones has started to affect most people. In addition to emptying our wallets, the trend leads to creating large amounts of garbage. The idea to repair and reuse products, now almost forgotten, is essential for sustainable development, waste reduction, and preserving the planet. Sales of refurbished mobile phones and laptops are gaining momentum, and the latest example comes from Romania, where French retailer Carrefour decided to offer refurbished phones to customers.
Carrefour, which has more than 12,000 stores in 30 countries around the world, has entered into a partnership to sell refurbished smartphones with the startup Recommerce Group, which operates in 20 European countries. Recommerce is one of the companies that refurbishes used phones.
By purchasing such phones, the customer saves 20 to 50 percent compared to the prices of the same new models and helps prevent the generation of global electronic waste, which reaches 50 million tons annually, and the use of raw materials with limited reserves.
When thrown into landfills, metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and lithium could also be hazardous pollutants.
The refurbished smartphones of Recommerce Group are now available for sale in Carrefour Romania’s online store, as well as in its shops in Bucharest (Baneasa and Orhideea), Botoșani, Brăila, Constanta, Târgu Jiu and Iași (Felicia), the companies announced.
Customers have the opportunity to choose among six refurbished Apple and Samsung models. Distribution will be extended to other Carrefour shops across Romania in Q1 2022.
Repair, reuse to take priority over recycling
The sales of refurbished smartphones and laptops in Australia and India are growing rapidly, not because of rising climate awareness but with the global component shortage and lower prices for consumers.
Around 1.5 billion mobile phones are sold annually globally, which could mean that a similar number is no longer used. Only under 15 percent is recycled annually in the United States. The market for refurbished phones is growing. It was worth USD 17 billion in 2016, compared to USD 50 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach USD 65 billion by 2024.
Experts claim that repair and reuse of phones should come before recycling. The appropriate waste management policy is to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
However, in the region’s countries, recycling is more common than the reuse of mobile phones. In recent years, recycling has been encouraged by mobile operators as well as retailers.
Recommerce plans to expand to ten countries in the region – Vigroux
Recommerce Group has been present in Romania since 2021 when it purchased Romanian startup Fenix, which also specialized in smartphone refurbishment.
In Romania, Recommerce sells over 20 models of refurbished smartphones from Apple, Sony, HTC, LG, Nokia… According to the company‘s website, all the components are genuine.
By giving a second life to used products, Recommerce supports decreasing the carbon footprint and limits the drain of raw materials to create new items, the company said.
Fenix founder and the representative of Recommerce Grégoire Vigroux, said that since 2021, the company’s objective has been to become the leader of the refurbished smartphone market in Eastern Europe. After starting in Romania, he added that it intends to expand to ten or so countries in the region.