For every smartphone in use, another four are sitting idle.
Trade-ins are not the only way to resolve the issue of used gadgets. A secondhand market is building up for such devices. Image Credit:

The UAE has more than 10 million smartphones in circulation. On average, people replace their smartphones every 24-36 months and, typically, their old devices either lie around unused or get thrown away.

It’s not just our smartphones we’re rapidly replacing. Our lifestyles today call for a whole suite of smart devices – smartphones, laptops, tablets and smartwatches. Pre-ordering the new iPhone before its release is a time-honored tradition of our generation. However, our relentless pursuit of newer gadgets has consequences.

Whether replacing a broken device or just looking to upgrade, most people possess an average of three to four devices they are not using. Our unused devices collect dust and contribute to the growing amount of e-waste on our planet. Not to mention, these devices are depreciating in value.

In fact, the average household in Dubai contains more than AED 5,000 worth of old devices not being used. So how can we turn this challenge into an opportunity? Disposing of these devices should not be an option.

Electronic devices contain metals and materials that are full of toxins. If thrown in landfills, these can infiltrate our soil, harming both human and animal life in the process. That’s why so many companies now have buy-back or trade-in option. In an attempt to reduce e-waste and protect public health, companies will take devices off your hands and recycle parts for further use.

Trade-ins help

The uptake of retailers offering trade-in options helps to drive the re-commerce market. This approach also supports a more circular supply chain model, rather than a linear one, thus producing less overall waste.

Disposing your device is not only harmful to the environment, but it’s also a missed opportunity to make a bit of extra money. As the smartphone becomes a vital necessity for everyday life, users are seeking more reasonable purchasing options, such as buying secondhand devices. Consequently, a thriving device re-commerce market has emerged, with players and platforms that support consumers to sell their unused devices at a greater value than buy-back options from retailers.

Keep them in use

The market for secondhand devices is growing at both ends. In my experience, the right platform can significantly enhance user experience and financial rewards for both buyers and sellers in the re-commerce space. In the Middle East, the secondhand device marketplace runs on listing websites or social groups.

NorthLadder, on the other hand, is an online marketplace that connects customers looking to sell pre-owned electronics and luxury assets to a global network of buyers, also with the option of buying back at a future date. This enables the customer to get the highest prices from an auction, while ensuring that it is a hassle-free process.

Let’s not forget it’s not just individuals who possess unused devices. Corporations often collect a bank of pre-used devices, which are essentially depreciating assets. Connecting with an established platform is more beneficial for corporations as it ensures reliable data erasure in line with international standards and removes the hassle of dealing with vendors.

In the Middle East, the growth of the electronic re-commerce market has a role to play in supporting national sustainability objectives. In the UAE, for example, a dedicated Circular Economy Council meets to ensure “circularity” to maximize use of resources, and ultimately, create a more resilient country. The re-commerce of electronics helps us to extend the lifespan of devices, and pass them onto users for a new lease on life, thus reducing the e-waste.