Second-hand device market to boom

1 min read

Last month figures from the international waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) forum suggested that over 5.3bn mobile phones will be discarded in 2022.

According to their research, people are keeping older phones rather than recycling and just 17% of the world's e-waste is properly recycled. In the UK it is estimated that more than 20 million unused but working electrical items could be recycled.

That could be about to change according to research from CSS Insight. It suggests that in the face of growing cost of living problems people are looking to cut spending on electronic devices over the next 12 months, which could lead to a significant fall in the sale of devices such as mobile phones.

Their research also found that consumers are thinking more about sustainability and the environmental impact of their choices, and its research suggested that by 2027 a commitment on the part of companies to the recycling of old devices could become a key differentiating factor in the smartphone space, companies may even start to share recycling levels as a key competitive metric.

But with more cost-conscious consumers could we see companies ignore or overlook expensive green targets? A lot’s happened in the last 18 months and there’s a feeling that sustainability has now been pushed to one side by covid, the Ukrainian war, inflation, and the energy crisis.

That, according to CSS, would be a mistake on the part of businesses who decide to take that route.

A lot of work, as WEEE’s figures show, still needs to be done. But cost-conscious consumers appear to be far more interested in acquiring second-hand devices, recycling and in repair services as more look to move away from the ‘throwaway society’.

As more consumers recycle their devices or look to repair them, companies may have to change their business models. Repairability is becoming more important and new European regulations seek to ensure that companies make more spare parts available, over a longer period, while also delivering clearer energy efficiency labelling.

The cost of repairs is currently prohibitive and there is certainly a lack of repair services and parts for consumers.

At a time when social and economic forces are combining to create a far more challenging environment, those companies that adapt fastest, and deliver more relevant services will come out on top.

With consumers appearing to want a more sustainable approach, so manufacturers will have to change and adapt too.