CEPS carried out this study for the Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
The study looks at the opportunities and challenges that arise from implementing circular economy approaches in the mobile phone value chain. A review of the value chain and different circular approaches is complemented by a scenario analysis that aims to quantify the potential impacts of certain circular approaches such as recycling, refurbishment and lifetime extension. The study finds that there is a large untapped potential for recovering materials from both the annual flow of new mobile phones sold in Europe once they reach the end of their life and the accumulated stock of unused, so-called hibernating devices in EU households. Achieving high recycling rates for these devices can offer opportunities to reduce EU dependence on imported materials and make secondary raw materials available on the EU market. As such, policy action would be required to close the collection gap for mobile phone devices. Implementing circular approaches in the mobile phone value chain can furthermore lead to job creation in the refurbishment sector. Extending the lifetime of mobile phones can also provide CO2 mitigation benefits, particularly from displacing the production of new devices.
The study has been published by the EESC in 2019.