The carbon footprint of our digital activities is becoming a reality. Independent organizations like Arcep are trying to concretely quantify the ecological impact of our consumption of smartphones, computers and even streaming series. And although it is difficult to calculate very precisely the kilograms equivalent of CO2 emitted by our smartphones or our computers, concrete initiatives have begun to help those who want to reduce the carbon footprint of their technological gadgets .
The repaired, star of “responsible” consumption
The first solution, and perhaps the best known, is of course the purchase of refurbished devices. The advantages of this method of consumption are many. The product catalog is expanding day by day, the products are usually cheaper and the carbon footprint of the gadgets is lower than the new products. It is estimated that the carbon footprint of a refurbished smartphone is 10 times lower than that of a mobile new from a factory (10 kg of CO2 equivalent compared to 100 kg for a new smartphone) .
With the problems of inflation, lack of components and ecological emergency, the refurbished market has structured itself to offer more attractive offers, with warranty, accessories and recovery of the old mobile. A way to encourage the general public to buy more responsibly. “We have a year 2021 with many disadvantages of nine. Covid is causing ecological and local awareness” explained Augustin Becquet, CEO of Recommerce.
However, if the improved model is more virtuous for the planet, only 37% of the French population says “recycle and reuse” as a buy trigger, minus 2 points from last year. “In recent years, we have seen ecological progress. This slowdown, I hope, is only temporary. The need to get the subjects around the environment is important. But the economy still comes first today”, specified the head of Recommerce.
The issue of reparability
This great ecological knowledge, not only ReCommerce is waiting for it. “People lack knowledge”, we claim at CompaRecycle, a company that publishes a price comparison tool for recovering your old phones. “If everyone returns their mobile to recovery, 12 billion will be reinjected into the economy” pointed out Gaël Brouard, CEO of the company. But not all refurbished phones are created equal. The need to consume “local” processed products is also important. “You must be consistent. We are talking about economy, ecology and sustainable development. Why look for quality products bought on the other side of the world when we have something close to us? We’re in over our heads by going to get supplies elsewhere because there’s not enough communication with home improvement.“explained the manager, knowing that the leader BackMarket takes its supplies mainly from the United States, a country where the culture of recovering products is well anchored.
Why look for quality products bought on the other side of the world when we have something close to us? We walk on the head.
To improve the market, manufacturers also need to play. “Where we need to improve is the price and the trade-in value. This is related to our ability to repair products. As a result, we have a fight that is healing. With easy access to spare parts, we can offer a wide range of products. The way the products are named today makes the repair more complicatedAugustin Becquet explained. “Stronger new products are needed to reduce the number of products in circulation each year. Produce better, to produce less with more circularity“.
Rent, a growing model
This need to move throughout the production process can be seen today in the emergence of another consumer trend: the rental of products.
A pioneer in the “responsible” electronics market, the manufacturer Fairphone recently launched the Fairphone Easy subscription, a mobile rental offer that aims to encourage consumers to keep their phones until as possible.
Concretely, the program consists of providing a Fairphone for rent with a reduced subscription for years. The longer the phone is kept, the lower the monthly bill. But beyond the economic model – which can be difficult to swallow for those who want to remain the owners of their electronic devices – above all the follow-up offered by an offer like this highlighted on Fairphone.
“The advantage of Fairphone Easy is full tracking. Even in intermediate healing. You are guaranteed that the parts will be reused as much as possible”explained Agnès Crêpet, manager of Fairphone. The idea is to really pay attention to the carbon footprint of your smartphone”from the cradle to the grave“. This is the same logic as Arcep’s recent efforts to establish a life cycle analysis (LCA) of our electronic devices. “Turnkey services avoid keeping phones in a drawer. End of life needs to be managed, it is very important. Today, only 17.4% of phones are properly recycled. The estimated amount of electronic waste littering our planet today is 53.6 million tons” details of Agnès Crêpet based on the UN report.
Don’t leave a device in a drawer
Unfortunately, the FairPhone Easy offer is not yet available in France. There are, however, similar solutions offered by local actors. Commun, for example, is a Cooperative Society of Collective Interest (SCIC) that works to build an electronic market “kind and committed“. In the same Fairphone model, it offers rental equipment, but not just any devices,”the best and the strongest“.
“The model is simple: from the producers, we prepare the phones. Once the customer receives their device, the contract begins. When he has a problem, we will help him by sending replacement parts or products. If the device can be repaired, it will return to the circuit” list of Adrien Montagut co-founder of Common. The logic is the same as Fairphone: do not abandon a device to its fate and make the most virtuous industry circle possible. “If the product cannot be repaired, we take back the spare parts” added the manager explaining that he had “switch“ecological”from 0 to 100% since 2015“.
A radical vision for the electronics industry
Not surprisingly, there are Fairphone 4s in the Common catalog, but that’s not all. There are also computers or headphones that are chosen for their ease of repair, or, at least, for the position of manufacturers on the ecological issue. Behind these commitments is actually a desire to radically change the electronics industry.
We believe that we can put electronics anywhere without worrying about the lack of resources. This is absolute nonsense.
“The company’s vocation is environmental and social. We need to spread another narrative for entrepreneurship” launched Adrien Montagut. “We believe that we can put electronics anywhere without worrying about the lack of resources, getting raw materials, etc. This is absolute nonsense. Our electronic vision is severely limited by the terminals of shared devices”, thought the man in charge. The company puts forward a specific vision of the “commons”, this philosophy that encompasses the integration of resources, management and rules that govern our industries and our societies.
“We are in a society of overproduction, not overconsumption. This term places the responsibility on consumers” raged the co-founder. The economic model of Commun, which is even more radical than the reconditioned one, still continues because the company now offers its services to individuals and businesses and is happy to have “two-year visibility and cash flow.“