Refurbished Smartphones: The Easy Step Businesses Can Make To Become More Sustainable.

A silver Android phone being held by a white person with both hands. Only the hands are visible in shot. on the left wrist there is a rainbow coloured beaded bracelet. On the mobile phone there is a scenic image of a singular oak tree in the middle of a wheat field with two tire tracks running vertically through the middle of the field.

The rise of smartphones has resulted in a significant increase in technological consumption, leading to an unprecedented environmental impact. Here’s how your business can help. 

Many companies supply business mobile phones to their employees to ensure smooth running communications and productivity on the go. But, how many of these companies consider the environmental impact of supplying brand new devices to their staff? Very few.

With refurbished handsets becoming more and more popular amongst business users and the environmental crisis deepening. We feel it is time to highlight the benefits of refurbished mobile phones, recycling old devices, and the impact mobile phones have on the environment.

Environmental Issues and Sustainability

Environmental awareness and sustainable business models are not new phenomena. They are, however, becoming more and more essential as we edge further and further into the prevalent climate crisis. 

Every year billions of tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere from coal, oil and gas production. These atmospheric gasses prevent energy from the sun from being radiated back into space, meaning the sun’s heat has nowhere to disperse, consequently warming the planet. The warming of the planet is the root of many issues that we have started seeing more and more of such as, extreme weather, dirty air, unnecessary deaths through health issues, rising sea levels, warmer oceans and endangered ecosystems. 

In addition to the damage caused by greenhouse gases, we also risk running out of resources. The world’s resources are not endless, and many of these frequently used resources are non-renewable and one day will be unavailable, highlighting the importance of sustainable alternatives.

“To prevent warming beyond 1.5 degrees, we need to reduce emissions by 7.6% every year from now until 2030”

United Nations Environment Programme.

Benefits of Being a More Sustainable Business

Sustainably conscious business models not only have environmental benefits, but it also has several business benefits, including: 

Competitive advantage 

  • Climate actions in business strategy, highlighting environmental and social impacts through full transparency will give a competitive edge against competitors. 
  • Many reports suggest that sustainably focused companies attract a higher level of new customers, new investors and new talent, all because they positively affect society.  
  • A large proportion of consumers consider a company’s impact on the environment during their decision-making process and are more likely to purchase from companies that practise environmentally friendly habits. 

Improved brand image 

  • Build your image as an employee. 
  • Improves the way stakeholders see your brand.

Cost reduction 

  • Through improved energy efficiency and energy conservation strategies.
  • Innovative manufacturing processes can lower costs over time.
  • The UK Government may reduce environmental taxes for companies that operate in a more environmentally friendly way.  

More engaged consumers 

  • Sustainability matters to a large number of consumers. 
  • Consumers are more likely to engage with businesses that support causes they care about. 
  • Positive company images can increase long-term customer loyalty.

Environmental Impact of Mobile Devices

The environmental impact of mobile phones is something we all bypass. We are so used to hearing about the environmental damage caused by vehicles, food production, and the fashion industry that the impact of technology often gets swept under the rug.

What we fail to realise is that mobile phones cannot be made without valuable minerals including silicon, carbon, calcium, coltan, iron, gold, copper, nickel, tin and aluminium. A large proportion of these minerals are obtained through mining which has negative environmental and social impacts. Material extraction is not the only damaging part of mobile phone production; the manufacturing process itself is responsible for pumping high levels of CO2, the main culprit of climate change, into the atmosphere. In fact, it has been predicted that by 2024 smartphone manufacturing will account for 14% of all CO2 emissions.  

“One 226g phone needs 74kg of raw materials, and the production of one microchip requires 36 litres of water

Environmental concerns are not just apparent during the manufacturing process of a smartphone, but also at the disposal. Mobile phones (and other electronic devices) contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and brominated flame retardants. When tossed into landfill, these materials can release toxic byproducts that contaminate air, soil and groundwater and ultimately cause harm to not only the environment but to human beings and animals. 

It is for these reasons that we must attempt to reduce our smartphone consumption and improve the way we dispose of our old handsets. By recycling our old devices we can keep the valuable and rare materials in circulation; and reduce the need for mining, the amount of CO2 emissions that occur in manufacturing, and the number of devices in landfills.

“Each time a phone is reused, recycled or refurbished, one less ends up in landfill”

Refurbished Handsets

Recycling mobile phones is not the only way to reduce our electronic consumption. Another great way of doing this is through buying refurbished mobile phones. 

A refurbished mobile phone is a pre-owned handset that was returned to the manufacturer or store; the device is repaired and restored to “like-new” ready for re-sale. These handsets may have had slight faults which caused a return, they may have been returned at the end of a contract period or, a customer may have changed their mind during the 30-day cooling-off period (meaning you could be getting a brand new phone).  All refurbished phones are thoroughly checked and tested to ensure that they are in full working order before being re-sold. 

Business Benefits

Refurbished mobile phones have many benefits for business users in particular as, let’s be honest, how many employee’s need brand new handsets anyway? Especially if they are being used for basic business purposes. The main benefits of refurbished phones for business include: 


  • Refurbished handsets cost less than brand new devices. It’s as simple as that. 

CSR Points 

  • By providing refurbished business mobile phones, you will be lowering your environmental footprint, which will play into your corporate social responsibility.

Better Devices 

  • You can provide better devices for less cost. 
  • You will have the option to give top-end smartphones, which will allow your employees to do more and increase their business productivity.

Free Yourself from Long-Term Commitments

  • Instead of getting tied into long phone contracts, you will have the freedom to operate devices on a SIM-Only deal, giving you more flexibility. 

Environmental Benefits

Refurbished mobile phones have many benefits for business users in particular as, let’s be honest, how many

We have already touched on the environmental impact of mobile phones so the environmental benefits may be apparent. But in case you’re unsure, let’s go over the benefits of refurbished phones one more time.

Refurbished mobile phones: 

  • Reduce energy consumption.
  • Reduce environmental toxicity. 
  • Lower electronic waste. 
  • Reduce carbon footprint. 
  • Require fewer raw materials.

In actual fact, owning a refurbished device is better for the environment than sending mobile phones to be recycled. Although it is better to recycle than to dump in landfill, the process is both time and energy-consuming, and only the small, valuable elements of the device can be recycled, which still generates a large amount of waste. 

If you feel that refurbished mobile phones are something your business could benefit from and want to find out more, get in touch with one of our business advisors today. 

Finished With a Device?

If you’re reading this and thinking about the handsets that you have but no longer need, there are a few ways you can pass them on for refurbishment and recycling, such as:

Mobile Phone Providers: 

O2 has a fantastic recycling scheme which makes it super easy for you to get rid of your old devices and make a little bit of money back. As an O2 partner, we use this service and currently average around 200 handsets per month recycled by our customers alone. 

Sell Devices Online: 

This option is more time consuming and just another task on a to-do list for many businesses, but it is still an option. There is also the potential to receive a little bit more money back by selling directly. 


Many charities within the UK will accept mobile phones as donations. They will then sell these devices back to mobile phone providers and receive the money for charity. This is a great opportunity to reduce environmental impact and provide for charities at the same time. 

It’s important to note that if you are thinking of passing your devices over, make sure they have been completely wiped and restored before doing so. Doing this will ensure your data is not available to be accessed by anybody else and will keep your company safe from security breaches. Concept management has a great article with advice on how to restore Android and Apple devices correctly.  


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