A mobile phone’s carbon footprint is an environmental disaster. From the extraction of the minerals to the final assembly, manufacturing is responsible for approximately three quarters of its impact on the environment.
According to Breathebefore your phone reaches our hands, it has already traveled four times around the world.
After the design in the USA, the extraction and transformation of the necessary raw materials for the construction is carried out in Southeast Asia, Australia, Central Africa and South America. While the manufacture of the main components takes place between Asia, the USA and Europe, before assembly is carried out in Southeast Asia. All before the smartphones are delivered by plane to distributors around the world.
Today, there are more than 70 different materials in a smartphone. Materials that are becoming increasingly difficult to extract that it is almost admitted that our units contain more than is left on the planet!
Having become veritable “urban mines”, it is urgent to recycle them while theyit is estimated that 100 million old phones are in our drawers in France.
Moreover, taken by the effects of fashion and technological advances, the French change their phone on average every two years while they are still in good condition.
To make our practice a little more virtuous, the solution that the public authorities have been pushing is to extend the duration of use of our phones, especially around refurbished ones.
According to a recent study by AdemeA refurbished mobile phone prevents the extraction of 76.9 kg of raw materials and the emission of 24.6 kg of CO₂eq (GHG) per years of use.
Refurbishment operations are all the more virtuous when they are linked to the establishment of a circular economy.
Because if the market for refurbished phones is moving forward, it is still today of very different quality, and most used units come from the US and Asia.
In order to create circular economic loops in each country, the European Commission has since the end of 2020 been working on a new directive aims to oblige manufacturers and importers to provide repair circuits for 15 essential spare parts for a period of at least five years.
Batteries, back panels, screens, photo sensors, buttons, speakers or even SIM card trays are mentioned, just as the price and delivery times of spare parts are subject to regulations so as not to discourage repairs.
This initiative is part of the European Green Deal and the 2020 circular economy action plan. In the final drafting phase, it must be presented for adoption at the end of 2022.
Local renovation in case of short circuit
Like all large companies pushed to improve their carbon footprint, the giant Orange has a net-zero carbon ambition for 2040. A goal that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions directly emitted by the group, but also indirect emissions and those that derived from its manufacturing processes, suppliers and customers.
Orange has already implemented actions at different scales, from planting trees to collecting used smartphones, as terminals represent around 80% of the total digital carbon footprint.
Report by Annabelle Grelier on Orange’s goal
If the French have long avoided the renovated, it seems that with inflation and the decline in purchasing power, they are changing their habits due to the circumstances. It must be said that few offers were made to them in this area and that the very uneven used market does not always provide all guarantees of quality.
It is therefore in this rapidly growing segment that Orange registers its partnership with Group cord, a benchmark company in electronic equipment refurbishing. The French company, whose head office is in Dinan, has almost twenty offices in France and seven abroad, and employs 2,800 people, including 550 employees in integration or disability. With 23 million products processed in one year, it has an annual turnover of 262 million euros.
The refurbishing chain operating for Orange, newly inaugurated at the Saint-Loubès site in Gironde, currently seems very modest: around fifteen employees are actually working on a goal of 15,000 refurbished mobile phones per year.
However, it is the first for Orange. The telecom giant, which already works with three other reconditioning plants (Recommerce, Again and Renewed), thus claims the launch of its first 100% French and solidarity-based smartphone reconditioning circuit. Through the adapted company Handiprint, which recruits, trains, supports and employs disabled employees.
Which leads the director of communications and CSR at Orange France, Gaëlle Le Vu, to say that the project ticks all the boxes:
“Here we will repair French laptops collected in our stores. We not only improve our ecological impact by operating in a short circuit, but also contribute to creating local employment for employees far from employment..”
On the Cordon Group side, it is under its Cadaoz Solidaire brand that these smartphones will be marketed, guaranteed for two years by Orange.
Because refurbishment is a crucial step in extending the life of units, it must be impeccable, says its CEO and founder, Serge Cordon:
“The renovation includes technical tests at 45 checkpoints, data deletion, repair with certified parts and quality control. Guarantees that you don’t often find on foreign platforms.”
A requirement that Serge Cordon continues to promote by focusing particularly on device traceability. And to slip a few names into the ears of Orange’s managers to praise the skill of young French shots at the forefront of this field.
With in 2022 still less than 5% of its smartphone sales in refurbished, Orange, the leading phone seller in France, undoubtedly still has a lot of work to do.