It’s time to put an end to take-make-waste and shift to profitable, responsible, sustainable growth.

Connected device growth has played a significant role in our current global climate crisis. At the root are decades of new device manufacturing and disposal patterns that generate massive amounts of eWaste and CO2. With these high stakes, decarbonizing the product lifecycles will take more than reducing our consumption of these devices. A focus on recycling ewaste efficiency isn’t enough. However, if we create solutions that get second and third lives from our devices coupled with integrated recycling processes, we can solve the other ⅔ of the environmental impact puzzle. Together we can reverse the trend: democratize access for devices globally, maximize the lifetime value of assets, and drive major advances in sustainability.

When it comes to a more sustainable device ecosystem, we have to emphasize that a lot is already being done to tackle these issues, especially in the Eco Rating community. Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telia and Vodafone Group introduced the Eco Rating labelling system, offering a single score based on metrics from the impact of a device’s production, usage, transportation and disposal. However, the embodied energy (the environmental burden caused by producing the equipment and sourcing the required materials) and to a greater extent the post-use phase (end of life), are not yet accounted for.

Quantifying the carbon footprint of these wasteful practices is time-consuming and expensive, due to a lack of extensive data sets and complex & secretive supply chain practices. To overcome these barriers and help the industry to conduct better practices in this space, we believe a common asset disposition model is necessary in order for multiple players in discrete supply chains to operate as a single unit (e.g. a common system for everyone rather than each company operating with their own data and using different standards).

Circular Economy Figure

In recent years, the “circular economy” has gained popularity and has found many early adopters across various industries. At its core, a circular economy aims to end our take-make-dispose economy, which is a very linear approach, and instead keep products at their highest possible value for as long as possible.

Working in tandem, Apkudo (by providing the platform), device suppliers (by providing devices) and downstream markets (by getting devices to end users) can benefit from a circular model. We also believe the financial and environmental gains of this circular economy model will achieve, by extending the lifetime of connected devices, its economically reasonable maximum.

In our lifecycle model, we focus on global warming potential (CO2 emissions) and estimate the waste caused by the processes and products.

Financial Perspective

Significant financial benefits can also be achieved by the adopters of such a model, making sustainability affordable. Assuming a 10.3% compound annual growth rate over a 10 year horizon due to a declining Moore’s curve annualized across the period, and a non-linear depreciation curve with annual depreciation of 60%, 30%, and 10% of the total device capital expenditure, we estimate Total Cost of Ownership savings on a systemic level can be achieved by transitioning from the business as usual case (BAU) to a circular economy (CE) case.

While we see that the circular model can have a significant impact on net CO2, we also see that we can achieve financial gains for all participants in the model.

Industry Insights

  • The Asia Pacific region is one of the significant markets for refurbished smartphones, owing to the highly developing telecom sector and large customer base. Furthermore, the region is increasingly investing in the mobile network. Countries, like China, India, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and South Korea, are increasingly investing in the development of the domestic telecom market, which is also expected to drive the refurbished smartphones market in the region.
  • Demand for used and refurbished smartphones at entry-level price points will be driven by demand in developing countries like India and Indonesia, where smartphones are penetrating even to rural areas as local governments are pushing for digital and mobile economy. For instance, the Digital India program is a flagship program of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society.
  • Used and Refurbished Smartphone Market is consolidated in nature as Samsung and Apple Smartphones currently dominate the market.
Global Demand Chart

Conclusion

The first movers are already realizing the significant economic and sustainability benefits of the Circular Device Ecosystem. As this model scales to become an industry standard, more players need to join the discussion, partner with Apkudo to enable the Circular Device Ecosystem model for all. Together we can revolutionize how connected devices are managed and deployed around the world, unlocking major advances in access, sustainability and circular economy profitability.