Recycling Cell Phones and Supply Chain Impact

A Wall Street Journal article (March 5, 2011) describes the growing used cell phone recycling industry.   Consumers preferring old models so they do not heave to learn new features, or desiring a lower cost phone, seem to flock to these recycled phones.  Companies like Recellular claim that 75 % of the recycled phones are  reconditioned and sold, while the remaining are broken down and salvaged for plastic or parts of metals.   But phone makers, in an effort to preserve their markets, have shifted to more frequent software upgrades that lock out old phones, or, as the recyclers allege, control their suppliers tightly to reduce availability of parts for repair of old phones.  At the same time, availability of new cheap phones from China threatens this refurbished market.  From an environmental standpoint, reuse of old beats the creation of new, or does it ? Will purchase of used phone become more like the used car market – a routine event ? Will the pressure on commodity prices get cell phone manufacturers to get into the act themselves ?

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About aviyer2010

Professor
This entry was posted in Global Contexts, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues, Sustainability and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Recycling Cell Phones and Supply Chain Impact

  1. Gerlinde Mikolik says:

    In the future because of the depletion of raw materials the recycling or remodeling of old devices will become an important topic. This could lead manufacturer to invest in this business. Furthermore, environmental issues are also important. Whether the purchase of used phones will be similar to buying a used car or not, depends on the marketing activities of the phone manufacturer. In my opinion the customer will show what is important and what has priority. The phone manufacturer will either reinforce the customer trend with adequate marketing events or not by trying to educate the customer in promoting the sales of new phones.

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