The term “refurbished” is gaining more and more importance on various online portals. Here, you can find out what’s behind the term and what advantages and disadvantages the concept entails. So you can get yourself the perfect device to play Hellspin.
There are currently around 60.7 million smartphone users in Germany. That corresponds to almost 73 percent of the population. To meet the demand for new smartphones, large quantities of valuable raw materials and energy are needed. To mine the raw materials, people in other parts of the world risk their lives every day under inhumane conditions. Child labor is also a daily occurrence.
To make your smartphone consumption more sustainable and save resources, you can buy second-hand goods. This also applies to many other devices, such as laptops or printers. These are often labeled as “refurbished.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
With refurbished devices, old and defective parts are replaced or repaired.
Refurbished literally means to renovate, restore, or refurbish. In our current linguistic usage, it usually stands for “reconditioned.” Today, refurbished increasingly serves as a description for already used electronic devices that companies have repaired and made functional again.
The process of refurbishing involves several steps. These include:
- The data cleanup of the device: this involves resetting the device to the factory state.
- Replacing old or defective components of the device; in order to find them, the device goes through some tests beforehand.
- to refurbish the device externally
- Make the device available for purchase
Products that are often marketed as refurbished are mainly cell phones, tablets, cameras, laptops, printers, and monitors. Well-known online shops** for such refurbished products include Refurbed, Rebuy, and Backmarket. But you can also buy refurbished car parts, refrigerators, hair dryers, or cameras.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
You can send broken cell phones to a refurbished platform.
Products that you can buy as “refurbished” have several advantages and a few disadvantages.
Advantages of refurbished devices:
- Refurbished devices are sometimes up to 40 percent cheaper since they are not new devices but second-hand goods.
- Even though you don’t get new goods, the products are usually fully functional after the general overhaul.
- Some sellers, such as Apple, Swappie, or BackMarket, offer a warranty of one to three years on the refurbished product.
By buying products that have already been used, you save resources. After all, companies do not have to manufacture a completely new product but usually only replace a few components. This saves raw materials and energy.
In this context, you also save CO2 emissions. In some cases, refurbished products produce up to 98 percent less carbon dioxide than new products.
By refurbishing products, companies reduce avoidable waste. If you want to get a new phone, you can send your old or broken phone to a refurbished platform instead of throwing it in the e-waste. This way, another person can continue to use your phone.
Disadvantages of refurbished devices:
There is no single definition of refurbished. This means that each platform, company, and store can set their own standards. So before you buy, find out exactly what the relevant vendor means by “refurbished.”
Since there is no protected designation or trustworthy seals and certificates for refurbished products, independent quality controls are missing. Therefore, you can currently only rely on reports from other users or the image of an online store.
Externally, the devices do not necessarily always look like new. They may already have minor scratches or dents. However, this can be remedied with a cover, for example.
HOW SENSIBLE IS REFURBISHING?
As long as there is no Fairtrade certification and complete recycling for electrical appliances, refurbished products are the most sustainable solution in this area. We also recommend treating smartphones, laptops, and other devices with care so that they can be used for as long as possible. For smaller defects, you can visit repair stores or repair cafés.
WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR OLD DEVICES
Used cell phones don’t have to rot in a drawer – you can donate old cell phones and return some of them to the material cycle. We show you five recommended organizations.
The useful life of smartphones is often very short. According to the consumer advice center, many devices are only in use for one and a half to two years before being replaced with a new device. One reason for purchasing new devices is often a contract that provides for just that.
A broken cell phone is another reason to purchase a new device. Sometimes, you can still repair them, but not always. Often, they lie around in a drawer for years, and nobody knows what to do with them anymore. But they are by no means worthless: donate an old cell phone and give it a second life.
Cell phones and other electronic devices contain rare earths and other valuable raw materials. Special recycling techniques make it theoretically possible to recycle these raw materials.
However, the reality is somewhat different. Many electrical devices are not disposed of properly and thus fall out of the recyclable material cycle. But even devices that are correctly disposed of as electronic waste can still end up in incineration, as recycling is often not economically viable.
Apart from the low collection rate, electrical appliances are also problematic in terms of raw material extraction. The extraction of rare earths, which are contained in almost all electronic devices, exploits people and nature in the global south.
To reduce this exploitation, it is all the more important that as many electrical appliances as possible are disposed of properly and recycled. Instead of disposing of them, in many cases, it can make more sense to donate old cell phones.