Vodafone Asks: Will Consumers Buy Refurbished Smartphones?

Recommerce & Vodafone report over half of Europeans are willing to buy a refurbished smartphone, which have 87% lower contribution to climate change vs buy

When we think of recycling, it tends to be a plastic bottle that springs to mind, or a piece of cardboard packaging. However, as the continued digitisation of the planet dictates further creation of electronic appliances, what happens to everyday technologies — such as smartphones — after we get that new upgrade? 

European device refurbishment leader Recommerce has partnered with Vodafone to take a deep dive into consumer thoughts, habits and trends around refurbished smartphones. 

Choosing a refurbished smartphone over buying or leasing new saves around 50 Kg CO2e over two years – 20% or less than the equivalent newly manufactured smartphone. The refurbished option has an 87% lower contribution to climate change and removes the need to extract 164 kg of raw materials to create the new phone.

Yet the sixth edition of annual analysis of consumer trends, Recommerce Barometer, finds environmentalism is the second most cited reason that consumers choose refurbished over new.

The report, launched at Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona, finds that more than 52% of Europeans declared they are willing to buy a refurbished smartphone in the future, and 67% of those cite affordability as their primary motivation.

“We are at the forefront of this shift in consumer behaviour, offering high-quality, refurbished devices that help make a significant environmental impact,” says Augustin Becquet, CEO of Recommerce.

“Our partnership with Vodafone is a testament to our shared vision of a sustainable future, where technology serves as a catalyst for positive change.”

Refurbished smartphones reducing contribution to climate change

The IDC’s Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2023–2027 reports that the worldwide market for second-hand smartphones expanded to 309 million units in 2023, and is expected to keep growing, with sales expected to exceed 431 million units by 2027. More Europeans than ever are buying refurbished, the Recommerce Barometer confirms, finding that over 43% of Europeans have already owned a second hand smartphone. 

The research covered 12 European countries: France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Spain, Hungary, and for the first time, Portugal and Ireland.

“Customers are now considering refurbished devices more than ever, so that they can get a great value phone that is better for the planet than buying a new one", shares Nick Dutch, Vodafone Global Head of Device Lifecycle Services.

“Buying a refurbished phone from Vodafone helps customers get the phone they want for less with added peace of mind.”

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