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Certified Reusable Cell Phones

March 27th, 2012 · No Comments

Certified reusable cell phones. A new organization, the Device Renewal Forum (DRF), aims to drastically reduce the number of old cell phones that are trashed every year by setting quality standards for used phones.

Quality standards for used cell phones

As we’ve noted in earlier posts, many cell phone users in the U.S. choose to stash their old discarded cell phones in drawers or dusty boxes instead of recycling or giving these away to friends or relatives for reuse. On average, Americans change their cell phone units every 18 months — U.S. households today contain about 1 billion used mobile phones according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Old cell phones are not safe for disposal in landfills. Most models contain chemicals (paint and flame retardants) and toxic heavy metals like cadmium, lead, mercury, etc. Landfilled, these can contaminate the soil and nearby water systems endangering the health of people, pets, and livestocks in adjacent communities.

Quality Standards For Used Cell Phones

Obviously, with 1 billion used cell phones — a large percentage of which will most likely end in landfills — there is a need for cell phone recycling and proper disposal. A new organization, the Device Renewal Forum (DRF), aims to drastically reduce the number of old cell phones that are trashed every year (about 129 million units annually, according to EPA) by setting quality standards for used phones.

DRF members include leading wireless and recycling companies like CDMA Development Group, Sprint Nextel, eRecyclingCorps, ModusLink Global Solutions, and Brightstar Corp. By working together to set standards for testing and certifying refurbished devices, the group hopes to help bring down the number of landfilled cell phones while taking the market for used mobile devices to the next level.

Emerging Markets For Used Cell Phones

Standards are important to reach emerging markets in Asia and Africa. As David Edmondson, CEO of eRecyclingCorps pointed out:

“The smartphone, which is being prematurely retired in rich, developed countries, can be renewed and put into the hands of people — at a discount — who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it,”

The idea is that more people in these developing countries will buy used mobile devices especially high-end data phones if they are assured of the quality of these devices through a universally recognized set of quality standards and certification. Edmonson admits that ‘certified’ used cell phones will likely be more costly than others but insists that this is more cost-effective as customers are assured that they are purchasing good quality mobile devices that they can use for as long as necessary. Cell phone users in India change devices every 6 years, on average.

The group hopes to have their first draft standards ready for review within the next 60-90 days, according to Edmonson.

Quality Standards and Costs

I like the idea of setting standards for second-hand or refurbished cell phones. My only reservation, and this is just a personal opinion, is that if the administration of this standards body will jack up the cost of used phones that would effectively defeat DRF’s purpose of strengthening the market. Let’s be honest, people buys used phones to economize. If used phones become expensive because of these standards, many would end up opting to save up and buy brand new units instead.

What do you think? Will you be more likely to buy a used cell phone if it has been tested in accordance with the standards proposed by DRF?

via GreenBiz.com

Tags: Cell Phone Recycling