These startups are promoting a more sustainable approach to technology consumption.
In an era brimming with technological marvels, our lives are woven intricately with electronic devices. These innovations have undeniably enhanced our daily lives, from indispensable smartphones and versatile laptops to smart home gadgets that streamline our routines. Yet, beneath this wave of progress lies a disconcerting truth—the rising tide of electronic waste or e-waste, posing a grave threat to our environment and the well-being of future generations.
According to Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), the global production of e-waste is predicted to reach a staggering 67 million tons by 2030, which is almost twice the amount generated in 2014. This exponential growth could be attributed to the rapidly evolving nature of technology, which has resulted in shorter product lifecycles and the consequent obsolescence of electronic devices faster than ever before.
A promising trend has emerged in response to this pressing issue—refurbished technology. This innovative approach seeks to combat e-waste by giving new life to abandoned devices.
What makes a refurbished product
Refurbished products result from a repair process due to previous damage or wear and tear. However, it’s also possible that the product was returned by a previous buyer who simply changed their mind. In either case, the refurbishment process ensures the product is in good working order and can be sold again.
The exact criteria for what qualifies as a refurbished product can vary between sellers. No universal refurbishment standard exists, meaning companies may have different processes for repairing and restoring electronic devices. Nonetheless, opting for refurbished technology can lessen electronic waste and promote resource conservation, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint from producing new devices.
Several startups lead the way with innovative solutions in the refurbished tech industry. This article will explore the top companies driving the revolution in electronics refurbishment.
Refurbed is an online marketplace headquartered in Vienna, Austria, selling refurbished electronics that undergo rigorous testing and renewal procedures. The refurbished products offered by Refurbed are priced at approximately 40 percent lower than their brand-new counterparts, and each product comes with a 30-day trial period and a 12-month warranty.
The startup’s inventory includes smartphones, laptops and tablets restored to a like-new condition. These devices undergo a rigorous 40-step refurbishment process. First, a team of experts meticulously inspects and tests each device, banishing any trace of previous use. They then clean and restore the device’s components, replacing any that don’t meet the highest standards. The device is then loaded with updated software and arrives unlocked. Despite a general reluctance among consumers to purchase pre-owned goods, Refurbed has successfully scaled to over 815,000 customers in nine European markets, establishing itself as a prominent leader.
The company claims choosing a refurbished device from the startup can reduce carbon emissions by up to 70 percent. Refurbed also plants a tree for every product sold to offset the remaining 30 percent of carbon emissions. They currently plant trees in Haiti, Madagascar, Kenya, Indonesia and Mozambique and may add Ireland to the list to help regenerate the country’s greenery.
Back Market has gained popularity as a renewed tech marketplace, founded in November 2014 by Thibaud Hug de Larauze, Quentin Le Brouster and Vianney Vaute. The startup operates in 16 countries and provides customers access to high-quality, professionally-refurbished electronic devices, mostly smartphones and appliances.
Back Market operates through a unique business model where they do not refurbish electronic devices themselves. Rather, they partner with third-party sellers or refurbishers that act as sourcing partners for the marketplace. These partners refurbish electronic devices to high-quality standards and list their inventory on the Back Market’s online platform, reaching a wider customer base and increasing sales.
Customers benefit from this model as they can confidently purchase renewed electronics, thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee. This guarantee ensures that customers can return the product for a full refund within 30 days of purchase if unsatisfied with its quality.
Back Market aims to promote refurbished electronics as the primary option for tech purchases. They acknowledge the significant potential of refurbished electronics in reducing e-waste, lowering carbon emissions, decreasing pollution and conserving water and raw materials. Additionally, they strive to increase access to technology through refurbished electronics.
Swappie is a Finnish technology startup that specializes in selling refurbished iPhones online. The startup was founded in 2016 to build trust with its customers. It aims to provide a reliable and trustworthy platform for customers to purchase refurbished iPhones without any concerns about being scammed. Swappie has become a popular choice for refurbished iPhones in Europe, expanding its operations to 15 countries across the continent.
Swappie offers a range of affordable refurbished iPhones in Finland to suit different budgets and preferences. The prices for iPhones start at €139 (approx. US$153) for a heavily used iPhone 7 and go up to €1,769 (approx. US$1954) for a like-new iPhone 13 Pro Max. These prices reflect the condition and features of the device and allow customers to choose a phone that fits their needs and budget.
Swappie implements a rigorous 52-step testing process for all devices to ensure the quality of their refurbished products. Furthermore, all phones are refurbished in Swappie’s European factories, which further ensures the quality of the products.
The startup also offers a 12-month warranty and a 14-day right to return all their refurbished iPhones, providing customers with peace of mind and confidence in their purchase. The warranty provided covers any functional faults that are inherent to the device and excludes any physical damage that may occur to the phone. The startup currently operates in Germany, Austria, Ireland, France, Italy and Poland, with plans to expand to three additional countries in the near future.
The emergence of refurbished tech startups reflects rising interest in more sustainable and cost-effective electronics. These startups drive positive change and set the standard for a more sustainable future. As these startups continue to innovate and expand their offerings, they have the potential to revolutionize the electronics industry, promoting a more sustainable and responsible approach to technology consumption.
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