Circularity

We want to make the most of the materials used in consumer electronics.

We believe in a world with a closed loop; a future where e-waste is reduced thanks to long-lasting products which are continuously reused and recycled. Thus, once resources enter our economic system, they will be kept on their highest value for as long as possible and freed for new applications once a product cannot be repaired anymore. . We’re moving one step closer to a circular economy by encouraging the reuse and repair of our phones, researching electronics recycling options and reducing electronic waste worldwide.

Why do things need to change?

Every year, consumers discard millions of mobile phones, and we’re constantly encouraged to upgrade our devices. Many of these phones are recycled under dangerous working conditions or end up in landfills in countries lacking a proper recycling infrastructure. In Europe, only between 12-15% are estimated to be properly recycled. The rest lies forgotten in a drawer, never even getting the chance to be reused or recycled.

Our approach: Closing the loop

We believe in a circular economy that is not only closing the loop for materials but that is inclusive and also contributes to the livelihoods of those in need.

Therefore we partner with organizations that do e-waste collection in some countries in Africa while we also encourage our customers to return their old devices in Europe.


We encourage European consumers to return their old devices.

In 2020 we set ourselves the target of compensating for at least 14% of our phones sold, by collecting old devices through our EU recycling service. We exceeded this goal by reaching 18%.

We recover e-waste in countries that lack recycling infrastructure.

We shipped 5 tons of batteries from Nigeria and 1500 phones for responsible recycling to Europe in 2020.

Reuse, recycle

With the help of our community and partners, we’re finding creative ways to maximize the value of the resources used in phones. Watch our video about our recycling collaboration with vanPlestik.

A new future for old electronics

Recycling and reusing our old phones play an important role in saving valuable resources and lowering our environmental footprint.
So in 2021, we’re doubling down on supporting you to give your old phones a new life. Our improved recycling service will be up and running in the coming weeks.

Beyond that, we are integrating recycled materials into our Fairphones. More on that in our Fair Materials section >>

Our progress and achievements

The fight against e-waste is a long and complex one – but by working with our customers and partners, we’re slowly modeling a more circular industry.

How we’re making an impact:

  • In 2017 we launched our European take-back program with ambitious plans to raise awareness and to encourage more people to recycle their phones or make them available for reuse.
  • We surpassed our ambitious target of 14% in 2020 by taking back more than 17,000 devices which is equivalent to 18% of the phones we sold.
  • But we want to ramp up our efforts even further: In the coming years we strive for becoming 100% e-waste neutral.
  • We’re working with Recell in Ghana and Closing the Loop in Nigeria to ship phones and batteries to Europe for safe recycling. Learn more about what makes this process such a challenge – and how the cobalt from those batteries can make it back into your phone.
  • We conduct extensive research to optimize the recyclability of our current and future products and share this information widely.

Featured projects & resources

  • Reuse and recycling starts with you

    We launched our recycling program to do our part to reduce electronic waste, and we’re looking forward to your participation

    Start recycling
  • Making a business case for African battery recycling

    We turned the most problematic waste stream in tech into commercial, societal and environmental value. The business case for African scrap battery recycling is now proven – and ready to be scaled.

    Check out the project
  • Studying the end of the tin life cycle

    For this study, Fairphone partnered with MacDermid Alpha and Anthesis. The goal of the research was to examine the main hotspots for tin recycling across the entire supply chain.

    All the details

Together we can change the way products are made

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