Reintroducing: Fairphone's recycling program

Originally published at: Reintroducing: Fairphone's Reuse & Recycle Program - Fairphone

We have relaunched our Reuse and Recycle Program. There are a lot of resources in your old smartphones and we want to make sure we make the most out of them, all the while keeping the environmental impact low and your benefits high. While the old program allowed people to send in their old phones to be reused or recycled, the new program will offer incentives to our community, such as a true market value for their products based on make, model and condition. There’s more to it, of course, but we can’t give away everything in the first paragraph. So read on to learn more about our new and improved Reuse and Recycle Program.

The issues

We have talked about electronic waste being one of the fastest-growing waste streams on the planet – in 2019 a striking 53.6 Mt of e-waste was created with European citizens contributing around 16kg per person. Globally only 17% of electronic waste (or e-waste) is documented to be collected for recycling, leaving roughly 83% of e-waste undocumented and ending up in shoe boxes or landfills – materials worth around USD 56 billion get lost every year. Additionally, it is estimated that 7-20% of e-waste is set up to be illegally exported, ending up in countries with limited resources and recycling infrastructure – often developing countries – causing enormous health and environmental problems.

Our commitment

It’s not new news that we encourage our community to use their phones as long as possible – the longer a product is used, the fewer new products we need to manufacture and the fewer resources we use. However, we are aware that eventually all life must come to an end and that includes smartphones when they can not be reused anymore. Only in that case does Fairphone send those phones to a responsible recycling partner to recover as many resources as possible. It’s important to note that in the best-case scenario, only 30-50% of materials are able to be recovered – causing us to lose valuable resources – when we opt for recycling instead of reusing.


We are committed to reducing e-waste and there are three loops that we will consider when doing so:

  1. We are researching the possibility of optimizing our resource use by offering a phone-as-a-service option, in which the user buys the service of using a phone instead of buying the phone itself.
  2. We aim to encourage consumers to return their unused phones as soon as possible, by incentivizing phone take-back in our European markets and enabling reuse before recycling.
  3. We support responsible recycling of old phones from countries with a lack of recycling infrastructure. In the short-term, this means recycling phones from countries with limited recycling infrastructure in Europe, and in the medium term, it means supporting efficient value creation from e-waste.

    Read more about our recycling program here >>

A second chance at life

We have a lot of goals here at Fairphone and we take strides every day to achieve those goals and deliver on our promise of offering you a fair and sustainable smartphone. We do this to care not only for the people involved in all aspects of making our phones, but for the phone itself. No, we aren’t giving our phones personalities or humanizing them, but they deserve to be cared for and not discarded to a shoebox or landfill when we are done with them.

In order for us to continue our commitment to reuse end-of-use products and recycle e-waste, our community is the key. We want to motivate consumers in Europe to hand in their unused phones to our Reuse and Recycle Program and give them a second chance at life, where possible. If a second life isn’t possible, we encourage people to still recycle their old phones. As always, we will do this in a responsible manner and ensure it is fair for people and the planet.

To further encourage consumers to send us their old phones, we have added an option to receive a discount on future purchases of Fairphone products. This discount can be used on all of our products from accessories to spare parts and phones, giving you greater flexibility and choice. As an added bonus, we are able to expedite the time it takes to deliver the discount code! All thanks to better efficiencies and more automation, you could receive this code in less than a week from when you sent us your device. Now, that’s quick!

In a nutshell, we always strive to reuse old products first and when that’s not possible, we recycle. To find out who can participate and the steps needed to recycle your phone or give it a second life, head over to our Reuse and Recycle Program page.


Seems the re-use vs. recycling split was, well, I guess corrected from 55 % to 45 % (given in 2020) to 40 % to 60 %. To be honest, the 55-45 numbers always appeared a bit rosy (too good to be true) to me. So my speculation is it hasn’t actually gotten worse, the numerical split is most likely just more realistic now.

A quick sum using these numbers tell me that of all European e-waste, about 87% is produced not by citizens but (presumably) corporations. This is a laudable project and 7 megatonnes is still a lot, but the shift of responsibility from megapolluting corporations to citizens who are just trying to get by is something to keep in mind when we’re dutifully recycling our phones and drinking from paper straws.


Maximum values for fully functional Fairphones (booting ok, display without scratches, no other defects, Google account fully deleted from device):
Please note unlike 2020, all devices count into the gift card value, not just one.


The defects that count are described under the little “i” (copied below) and read very general… Not mentioned a faulty mic… With a fault for a FP2 its only 14€…

Is the rest of the phone (except the screen) faulty?

(The housing/back cover, buttons, battery, SIM card slots, etc ?)

If your phone’s display is scratched or damaged, reply with “No” to question 2.

Reply with “Yes” to this question, if any of the following applies:

Your phone’s exterior is damaged or is missing pieces.

The back cover or battery cover of your phone doesn’t close properly.

The sides of your phone are damaged or bent

The front and back cameras are damaged.

For phones with an external keyboard: keys are damaged or missing. For phones with a removable battery, the battery is damaged or bloated and/or its contacts are damaged or defective

Buttons are damaged or missing.

The USB(-C) or Lightning charging port is damaged. The SIM- and SD card slots are damaged or defective.

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Is there an end time to this recycling program? I was thinking about sending my fp2 after receiving a fp4, would be that possible?

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I don’t see why not, one is not dependent on the other from Fairphone’s point of view but you will only get credit for the FP2 which will have to used against a later purchase.

Maybe an accessory like the earbuds??

@selex While I cannot find any expiration date, I would expect this program to last long into 2022 (read: into the second half of the year). The previous program lasted at least six months or so if my memory isn’t cheating on me.

Interesting find in the extended FAQs:

When will cashback be available for the Reuse and Recycle program?

We are working to make the option available to participants. The date is still to be decided.

If this really comes at one point, I could imagine it would be limited to Fairphones sent in.


We are planning an option to receive a cash back on a previous purchase

Looks like that is the plan already for Fairphones but the quote you use may include all makes?


My phone model (OnePlus 5) doesn’t show up in the recycle program, ‘find your phone’ field.

Is it still possible to take part in the recycle program if my phone isn’t listed as an option?



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I found it using the search field (just entered “plus”).

ONE PLUS 5 – maximum value 44€


Fantastic, thanks, the space in OnePlus was obviously required :grinning: should have known.


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The recycling site says it’s unable to generate a postage label for the UK. Does that mean…

  • The user just has to post their phone at their own expense, but they will receive a voucher that can be spent at the UK Fairphone Shop?
  • Or will the voucher be valid only at the EU shop?
  • Or are vouchers not issued for Fairphones returned by UK users?
  • Or are phones not even accepted for recycling from UK addresses?

Having been promoting Fairphone in the Uk since the FP2, I know people will be asking me and will expect me to know!

Unfortunately the UK is currently excluded from the program (question 2):

EDIT/UPDATE from Twitter (Fairphone reply from today 11:49 AM CET):


So apparently just a bit more wait. :slight_smile:


Thanks, Urs! That’s promising. :+1:

If I am able to move to the FP4, it won’t be until after Christmas anyway, so perhaps no additional patience will be required.

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Do they tell anywhere who their service partner is or where one can buy the reusable phones?

You may be better off asking Fairphone ? :slight_smile:

The form suggests it’s, but apparently they do not offer Fairphones so far.


Also my phone is not selectable. It is an old Zenfone Go. It does not power up, unworthy refurbishment (main board damaged).
I would like it to be recycled; it doesn’t matter to me if I get no money back.


Have you checked local options? In Germany environmental organizations like Greenpeace or others often set up local collection boxes at their offices.

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