Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Standards for refurbished wireless devices are on the way

image A group of mobile phone companies and organisations have come together to form the Device Renewal Forum (DRF), with the aim of establishing a common certification for refurbished wireless phones. The DRF certification process will help to ensure that only high-quality and properly functioning devices re-enter the marketplace. The idea is that having a common standard will expand the growth of the renewed wireless devices market.

The DRF has been formed by Sprint Nextel, Brightstar Corp., eRecyclingCorps, ModusLink Global Solutions and the CDMA Development Group (CDG) trade association. The group will work across all the wireless interface technologies including, but not limited to, GSM, CDMA2000, EV-DO, HSPA and LTE.

The organisation will provide a global forum to address issues related to renewing wireless devices. A subcommittees will establish a ‘gold standard’ for testing and certifying renewed devices, using best practices from around the world to extend the lifecycle of mobile phones already in market. 

By renewing and certifying refurbished wireless devices the DRF believes that demand for affordable phones in markets can be fulfilled, while preserving the environment, conserving materials, minimising pollution and eliminating waste.  The group points out that mobile telecommunications has become the largest consumer industry in the world, with more than 1.68 billion wireless devices produced each year. But less than 1% of these devices are recycled and even fewer are renewed.

Any company or organisation that wants to make a positive and significant impact on the environment and future of the wireless industry can join. The organisation is hoping for support from wireless service providers, device OEMs, collectors, distributors, trade-in resellers, retailers and government agencies that share common goals on device recycling.


Well the news is timely, given my comments yesterday on IBM’s new remanufacturing centre in China. What we have here is a more ambitious, industry-wide approach with what seems to be a clear focus on limiting the impact of the huge, and increasing, mountain of disposed mobile phones. The need for affordable phones is mentioned, but the sheer volume of devices involved seems to be the incentive for action.

It will certainly be more effective at an industry level. Creating a level playing field of devices that are certified to a common level for reuse creates a real second market where all brands can compete. That competition will create awareness and help promote these reconditioned devices as a real alternative.

It really is what we should be doing with all forms of e-waste – reuse is the most effective form of recycling. Let’s hope the Device Renewal Forum gets the support it deserves.

© The Green IT Review

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