Digital devices: how reconditioning succeeds in countering programmed irreparability

57 tons of electronic waste in 2021

According to the World Economic Forum, 57 million tonnes of electronic waste were produced worldwide in 2021 (6 kg per person) and this number is increasing by 2 million tonnes each year. Knowing that only 20% of this waste is recycled, we understand the environmental impact and the need to rethink consumption. “This condemnation of Apple is a first historic victory against scandalous ready-to-throw practices! adds Laetitia Vasseur.


In the Back Market laboratory, digital devices as well as household appliances are completely stripped to understand any faults and improve the quality of the refurbished.

Stéphane Lartigue/ “SOUTH WEST”

Because the surveys and the increase in purchases echo this: consumers are showing a beginning of appetite for refurbished goods, both for the environment and for the price. The market is taking shape, slowly, but encountering a few pitfalls. “The pitfalls of planned obsolescence. This can take three forms: aesthetic, technical and software”, insists Laetitia Vasseur.

We are at less than 5% breakdowns for reconditioned. We want to reach 3%, the level of new. »

It is on this last form that the French refurbished giant, Back Market, work. The market place, which has made refurbished mobile phones, computers, tablets, headsets and game consoles its specialty, has created an R & D (research and development) laboratory in Bordeaux, where it has set up its head office. “Primary objective: to give consumers confidence in refurbished products, which are cheaper and more ecological, and to give them no reason to buy new. It goes through quality, therefore through the control of breakdowns”, underlines Raoul Costa de Beauregard, director of operations. “We are at less than 5% breakdowns for reconditioned. We want to reach 3%, the level of new. »

In the layout of the 5,000 m² of offices at its head office in Bordeaux, Back Market also plays the ecological card.


In the layout of the 5,000 m² of offices at its head office in Bordeaux, Back Market also plays the ecological card.

Stéphane Lartigue/ “SOUTH WEST”

We cross the 5,000 m² of work or relaxation spaces, meeting or private rooms, the Bordeaux headquarters, all in an eco-designed decor where wood reigns supreme, with a view of the submarine base and the sailboats yachts moored. And we arrive at the “lab”. Heart of Back Market innovation and testing. Here, Kewin and Julien, precision screwdrivers at their fingertips, disassemble phones, PCs, tablets, consoles and household appliances.

Knowledge sharing

“We are looking for ways to circumvent the brakes on reconditioning knowingly put in place by certain brands. They seek to ensure that the product cannot be repaired by anyone other than their approved repairers,” says Raoul Costa de Beauregard. And to quote a famous brand which has programmed its telephones in such a way that as soon as the battery is changed, an error message appears permanently on the screen. “The brand’s battery is charged by it at 50 euros. Our repairers use batteries manufactured in the same factory, with the same functions, without the logo, charged at 5 euros. They adapt perfectly to the device but the error message appears and creates doubt among the customer of the refurbished mobile. For nothing… We are therefore trying to circumvent this type of lock, ”continues the manager. While the HOP association is making proposals to Europe for these practices aimed at limiting the repair of products to be prohibited.

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Digital devices: how reconditioning succeeds in countering programmed irreparability


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