Renovated, a less green business than it seems


The sale of refurbished products has increased enormously in France. But two refurbished smartphones out of three sold in France are imported from abroad.

With almost 3 million refurbished smartphones sold in France in 2021, a 20% increase in a year, France has become a preferred area for industry players and a market estimated at EUR 700 million (for 14% of the annual smartphone sales). in quantity). At a time of galloping inflation and a shortage of electronic components, refurbished goods continue to be successful: “It is a small activity compared to the core activity of the Fnac Darty group, but which shows double-digit growth. “, welcomes Martin Aunos, the second life director of Fnac Darty. Good news for the planet? Yes… but could be better.

Smartphones from abroad

“In France, 1 million phones are collected every year and nearly 3 million are sold, so some of the refurbished phones sold in France come from abroad,” said Augustin Becquet, CEO of Recommerce, a subcontractor specializing in player recovery solutions. such as Bouygues, Amazon and Samsung. Import is therefore central to the refurbished market in France. “Some refurbished players have a business model of buying lots and products in surplus and subsidized markets like Japan, the United States or Australia, where consumers have $100 packages and therefore get a new cell phone back every 24 months. Then they resell them on the French and European markets,” explains Augustin Becquet. Recommerce, for its part, favors the local sourcing of products. Frédérick Baby-Marinpouy, who heads Expodispo.fr, a platform for the resale of exhibition models, explains that “the flow of refurbished goods has dried up due to the pandemic and the shortage of raw materials”.

To improve the refurbished market, the company wants more spare parts to become available so that products become easier and cheaper to repair. “Out of the 7,000 references, we take back 600,000 products per year,” explains Augustin Becquet. There are certain products that we cannot repair because the spare parts are not available. In recycling, there is little recovery because the components are mixed and the extraction of the materials then become complex. By having generic spare parts on these products, we could lower prices,” he continues. If, from an ecological point of view, importing products from the American or Asian continent to resell them in Europe is questionable, the approach remains partly virtuous for the CEO of Recommerce, because “no new matter is mined”. Augustin Becquet has become a stakeholder in Eurefas, an association that defends the interests of refurbished players at European level. The members of the association sign a charter in which they commit to promote a circular economy.

A possible local solution

“At Fnac Darty, we focus more on products from our ecosystem, refurbished by one of our four workshops in France or with our partners in the local circuit, as opposed to a refurbished market that is widely bought in the United States.” also Martin on Auno’s. Renovated at Fnac Darty, it employs about forty employees, supported by the group’s after-sales service, which represents several thousand people. “For example, we take PS4s back through YesYes in Caen and then resell them. Our goal is to close the loop.” According to the Recommerce Kantar barometer, only 27% of French people have already sold their second-hand mobile. The others keep them in reserve in case they are needed or prevent their data from being hacked, or give them to a loved one. “There is a waste water tank in France, notes Augustin Becquet, CEO of Recommerce. Smartphones are mainly reused in the family or friendly circle and a large part ends up in the drawers. The person will then only use it for 2 or 3 days. will no longer be up to date on the day it will be needed, so we should encourage them to resell them,” he continues. And once this bet is won, the ecological mission of the overhauled will be perfectly achieved.

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