THE RISE OF THE REFURBISHED MOBILE PHONE – Part 2

News Release

In the last blog, we began to look at the refurbished phone market, with an introduction into the popularity of refurbished phones, and the advantages and downfalls of owning a second-hand device. Part one also dived into how refurbished phones can have a positive impact on the planet, allowing us to decrease our contributions to landfill and carbon emissions.

If you missed part one, you can read it here.

In this blog, we will be observing how the insurance market is becoming more socially and environmentally aware of the impact mobile devices can have on the planet, and the benefits to businesses by becoming more conscious of the effects of E-waste. In addition, we glimpse at the ethical providers who are making a change to the mobile market, by creating sustainable devices.

  1. INSURANCE MARKET – HEADING TOWARDS SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS

    When we consider how social and environmental consciousness has developed over time for the insurance market, there is argument now that sustainability represents a source of innovation[1] and that the time is ripe for businesses to go green[2]. But how can businesses in the market ensure a win-win outcome that doesn’t come at the cost of growth and profitability – especially at this critical time period when some businesses are struggling? Many are turning towards, ‘Green Computing’, defined as the use of less toxic materials, less power consumption and use of recyclable materials.[3] Even though the insurance market is heading towards a stronger social and environmental consciousness, environmentally friendly decisions don’t always make economic sense, but at Assurant, we understand the importance of leaving a legacy that shows we care about the environment, and the communities we work in. Becoming sustainable and environmentally savvy is an imperative part of our business strategy. By utilising green technologies such as Assurant Tech Revive, we’re committed to bringing liquid damaged devices back to life in the most sustainable way possible and saving them from going into landfill. Over 80% of the devices we receive where the liquid damage has occurred within 3 months are fixed. That’s saving a potential 7 million liquid damaged phones each year from ending up in drawers or going to landfill. And it’s not just phones that can benefit. The versatile technology works on other popular devices like tablets, laptops and smartwatches.

    We are making changes that bring better sustainability and energy efficiency to our marketplace, whilst continuing to ensure that devices that are not repairable will have their working sections harvested to use in the Repair and Refurbishment process, enabling us to recycle materials and maintain that minimal waste goes to landfill.

  2. ETHICAL PROVIDERS

    As the refurbished phone marketplace evolves, so too does the interest surrounding ethical manufacturers. Fairphone, is the social enterprise that brought us the world's first ethically produced smartphone back in 2013[4]. The company’s ethos is surrounded by putting people first and choosing fairer materials. With a high level of clarity about their supply chain, Fairphone’s focus isn’t on profitability or efficiency, but instead the futures of the people who make up the chain, and the future of the planet. Likewise, a German provider Shiftphone, aims to deliver ‘a product with three main features: repairable technology, fair production and cool, feature-filled design.’[5] By utilising social media, Shiftphone has educated their consumers on how to carry out repairs on their Shift smartphone, without the fear that by doing so, they will disrupt their warranty.

  3. E-WASTE

    E-waste is the second major problem caused by the smartphone upgrade cycle. In 2019, society produced over 50m tonnes of electronic waste.[6] Only 17% of global e-waste is documented to have been collected and properly recycled in 2019. If current trends continue, global e-waste production is expected to reach 120 million tonnes per year by 2050.[7] When consumers choose to purchase a refurbished phone over a new device, they are choosing to become  part of ‘The Circular Economy’, and ultimately helping to reduce the impact that E-waste is having on our planet. Refurbished devices are firmly on the rise, which will continue to support minimising the UK’s contribution to E-waste. At present, UK households and businesses produce 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste each year[8], but with more consumers choosing to go green, due to the ‘growing residual value of mobile phones, wider options to trade-in or part-exchange existing phones and attractive SIM-only deals,’ it could be possible to significantly reduce this figure.[9]

  4. ASSURANT DEVICE CARE CENTRE AND SERVICES

    Our UK based Device Care Centre handles a substantial number of devices every month. We offer the best options to get our partners’ customers connected when something goes wrong with their mobile devices. Our phones are incredibly important to keep us connected, productive and safe, so we offer a range of services for customer fulfilment. As well as being repaired at our Device Care Centre, we also offer replacement, upgrade, or repair, so we can restore a customer’s mobile lifeline and sense of security within hours. The Device Care Centre is staffed by highly skilled specialists, all focused on repairing devices as quickly as possible without compromising on quality. This year and to ensure that we are positively contributing to the environment, our facility will use the latest robotic technology, which will save at least 33% of power consumption compared with traditional Conveyorisation systems. Our centre is more sustainable and efficient with new zero carbon technology helping to reduce our energy consumption.

    If you want to find out more about how our current Device Care Centre works, please visit: https://www.assurant.co.uk/partner-with-us/connected-living/device-care-centre   

  5. CONCLUSION

    Refurbished phones continue to grow in popularity, acceptance, and preference over new phones. The market is moving towards producing devices that sit in line with businesses’ corporate and social responsibility efforts, as well as a collective move towards becoming generally more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Looking towards the future, ‘the used smartphone market will continue to grow exponentially as second-life devices become more poised to take a larger market share over the course of the next five years.’[10] With not only the environment in mind, but also the consumer, buying refurbished means saving money and helping to save Mother Nature too. For this reason, the Rise of the Refurbished Phone is set to continue!


    [1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/josephholt/2020/01/28/sustainability-in-business-is-more-an-opportunity-than-a-threat/?sh=701d83561b76

    [2] https://theconversation.com/going-green-dramatically-benefits-businesses-it-should-be-central-to-their-coronavirus-recovery-strategy-143855

    [3]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320368677_The_green_2020_Impact_of_smartphones_on_the_environment_in_present_and_future

    [4] https://en.reset.org/blog/why-your-new-smartphone-might-not-arrive-time-christmas-and-thats-completely-cool-12162015

    [5] https://en.reset.org/blog/shiftphone-ethical-smartphone-thats-made-germany-10242017

    [6] https://www.musicmagpie.co.uk/blog/2020/04/20/why-are-refurbished-phones-good-for-the-environment/

    [7] https://www.gsma.com/betterfuture/2020sdgimpactreport/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-Mobile-Industry-Impact-Report-SDGs.pdf?utm_source=better_future_site&utm_medium=search_engine&utm_campaign=2020_SDG_impact_report

    [8] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-53418758

    [9] https://www.ccsinsight.com/press/company-news/refurbished-mobile-phone-market-poised-for-further-growth/

    [10] https://medium.com/@GalaxyeSolution/the-refurbished-phones-market-outlook-through-2022-f17791aa24a3

     


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