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Once Upon a Circular Economy

December 2021

We all know about 1001 Nights but have you heard of 1001 Lives? It’s a beautiful story written by several authors, most of all, you. Are you comfortably seated? OK, let’s get started.

Once upon a time there was a mixed-up bunch of words. Their names were Sorting, Recycling, Sustainable Development and Circular Economy. These are somewhat familiar terms that we may have encountered at least once in our lives. One day, Circular Economy met Back Market. We won’t hide the fact that it was love at first site (get it? Site/Sight). We believe that love is meant to be shared. And your smartphones are at the heart of the matter. Here’s why.  

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The Smartphone from Cradle to Grave

The circular economy already imposes itself at the design stage of a smartphone, by raising the question of its inevitable malfunction or breakdown. This interference happens at every stage of a product’s life cycle.

For example, companies are creating smartphones with removable batteries (easier to recycle or change), with components that are easily replaced or repaired, and with recyclable materials. Currently, the best example on the market is the Fairphone.

Next is the manufacture of the smartphone. This second step involves the extraction and processing of limited or renewable raw materials as well as the manufacture and assembly of components. To give you an idea, the production stage alone accounts for 78% of the greenhouse gases emitted throughout the life of an iPhone 7. Even polar bears are having a hard time.

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In the circular economy, the main idea is to use as little energy as possible, to favor renewable energy and as much as possible, to try to recover all or part of the energy expended.

Once the smartphone is assembled, it is distributed and sold in stores or on the Internet before it comes into a consumer’s possession!  But generally speaking, it doesn’t stay with them very long, an average of 18 months… A pretty short life, due in part to planned obsolescence. But that’s another story.

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After using our smartphones for a too-brief relationship, many of us buy a more recent model. This may be because the old one is broken, less efficient than the new ones on the market, or simply because its design is obsolete. This old smartphone is then left in a drawer or worse, finishes its life in a landfill.

The Endless Resurrection Of The Smartphone, Or At Least Its Components

Thinking in terms of a closed circuit and applying the principles of the circular economy allow us to prevent smartphones from becoming electronic waste, along with the 6.3 MEGATONS already generated in the US each year.

So what are the right habits to cultivate? Before thinking of throwing something in the trash, remember these three key words: reuse, repair and recycle.

Examples would be giving a phone that still works to a family member, repairing a phone instead of buying a new one, or selling an old phone to a new owner. And even if a smartphone can no longer be repaired, its components can be recycled and used in the manufacture of other products. That way, we can prolong electronic lives (and make better use of our natural resources)

It’s clear that at Back Market, we are all about the circular economy: recovery of old smartphones, repair, refurbishment, redistribution… A wonderful process made possible thanks to you! The 1001 lives of our refurbished phones? They are all thanks to you!

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