Save the Planet With Your Next Used iPhone
Are used iPhones better for the environment?
Introducing the unsung heroes of the circular economy: our refurbishers.
For a device to be considered refurbished it needs to have been tested and where necessary, its components repaired or replaced.
These can be done directly by the manufacturer and their authorized affiliate, in which the device is considered “Certified Refurbished”. An independent refurbisher is someone that does the same work...independently. But having this status doesn’t mean that their work is any less valuable. If anything, it’s more important. Here are three reasons why:
Independent refurbishment is the reason we have a lot of variety and stock of refurbished electronics in circulation. Manufacturers are primarily in the business of selling new electronics—they aren’t incentivized to refurbish devices in very large quantities nor to refurbish much older models.
Related to this point, independent refurbishers hinder manufacturers from deciding unilaterally when a model should be retired. For instance, If you wanted to buy a refurbished iPhone 6s you couldn’t do that on the Apple website—but you could certainly find one at Back Market thanks to our refurbishers.
Independent refurbishers often have shorter supply chains. It's great for local communities and also allows some measure of independence when it comes to supply. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, for example, manufacturers’ supply chains were suffering from long delays and causing electronics shortages just when people needed them the most. Independent refurbishers from around the country were able to step up and fill that gap precisely because they work more locally.
And so, let’s get right into it. Meet two of our refurbishers!
Founded: 2009 / Location: Sayreville, NJ
Creative Technology Innovations is made up of a team of about 15 people, including its founder, Albert Maimon and his brother Joe Maimon. They are largely a buy-and-sell operation: they source refurbished devices, test them to make sure they’ve been perfectly restored (and bring them up to par if they haven’t) before listing them on Back Market’s catalog. We talked to Joe quickly about his experience working in the refurbishment industry:
How did you get into this business?
I always found technology interesting, I loved fixing cracked screens, lcd’s, etc, as a kid. We love providing “recycled” electronics for people in need of a tablet or laptop.
What is the toughest thing about this line of work?
The hardest thing is dealing with returns, which is why we do our best to make sure everything is as good as it can be to avoid having too many of these. It’s also hard to source the right “hot” product for the season.
Is your phone a refurbished phone?
Yes, my phone is refurbished, along with my personal laptop, headphones, and any sort of gaming that I own. I truly believe using refurbished electronics helps our environment.
Founded: 2017 / Location: Flower Mound, TX
Bohm Technologies is a state-of-the-art refurbishing company founded by Zalman Schochet and Levi Wilhelm. It has over 20 employees, who, armed with the latest technology, restore devices that would otherwise have been prematurely discarded. Here, their CEO Zalman Schochet answers a few questions:
How do you think your refurbishment business contributes to your local community or to the community at large?
Our business contributes to the community in two major ways. First, our focus is on recycling and sustainability. Our business model takes electronics in the form of returns or refuse and transforms them to viable refurbished products. These are products that would otherwise end up in a landfill, contributing to the ever growing problem of electronic waste. This focus, combined with our R2 certification, also allows us to treat products that are not sellable in a safe and efficient manner.
Second, our business contributes to the community by making consumer electronics more widely available to the larger population. By taking products that have been used and running them through our complete testing and refurbishing process, we are making a product that would not otherwise have been available due to availability or price.
Have you had any special initiatives that you are especially proud of?
During the pandemic, there was a critical need for wifi hotspots for first responders and critical infrastructure. To address this need, we partnered with a major carrier and took over 30,000 older model iPhones and refurbished them to use as hotspots to replace standalone hotspots that were in short supply. The entire company worked 18 hours a day, 6 days a week to get these turned around and get them out to the carrier we partnered with for distribution. All the leadership was on the floor working side by side on the line. Sometimes they were getting told what to do and how to do it. The entire company pulled together and made it happen in a month. As a company, we felt that it made us stronger and more cohesive.
Is your phone a refurbished phone?
Yes it is.
Our mission is to make renewed tech mainstream. Turning old into "new new", so to speak.
Are used iPhones better for the environment?
For every phone accessory sold, we donate at least $1 to PUR Project to help the village of Pejarakan manage and recycle its waste and revitalize their environment. The funds will allow PUR Project to continue the pilot program they started in Batu Ampar Banjar, a small section of Pejarakan.
The production and end-of-life disposal of our smartphones, computers and other modern tech have a dramatic impact on the environment, which can often be overlooked when compared to other environmental issues. Half of the carbon emissions from the digital sector (making up 4% of global emissions) come from the production of devices like these, and buying them refurbished, while not a perfect solution, can help to significantly limit their environmental impact. We’d like to tell you a little more about that.
The tale begins in 1904, in the firestation of Livermore, Ohio. It is a bright and hopeful beginning. An electrician is in the process of fitting what will become known as the “centennial bulb” - a light bulb that would continue to burn even a hundred years after. The bulb, invented by Adolphe Chaillet and manufactured by the Shelby Electric Company, still shines even today. That light pointed to a bright future, but that future would dim just 20 years later.
Unless you act fast your ownership rights over your devices may soon be limited. Big tech companies are currently lobbying to restrict your ability to repair or modify electronic equipment—including things like your tablets, smartphones, laptops and more.
...and a whole lot of nothing. Oops, sweet nothings. To show you in some small way that we care, because we totally do.
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