There are thousands of cell phones in the huge metal box, many with broken screens. Some are clearly showing their age, some are from cell phone makers that are long gone – like the Siemens M35i. Over 20 years ago, the gray bone was considered the modern outdoor cell phone because of its sturdy plastic cover. She is now waiting for an employee of the IT company AfB in Ettlingen near Karlsruhe to remove the battery. The rest is crushed. And along with the other small parts of shredded cell phones, hard drives and other data media, pass them on to refiners, who scavenge gold and other valuable raw materials and make them usable again.
AfB specializes in reprocessing used mobile phones, as well as PCs, laptops, monitors and printers, “repackaging” them in a new German. This means that data on devices is deleted, cell phones, laptops and monitors are cleaned and polished and resold as used devices. In 2020, the company, which employs around 500 people, processed more than 472,000 computing devices. It is not the rule for devices to be dismantled into separate parts and end up in the shredder. “We can market 65 to 70%,” says managing director Daniel Büchle. They do this either through their own online store or in the company’s stores at other locations in Germany, France, Austria and Slovakia.
The company, which is organized as a non-profit LLC and employs many people with disabilities, buys used equipment from companies in Dax such as Heidelberg Cement, Telekom and Siemens, but also from medium-sized and large companies. small craft businesses. Prices for cell phones, laptops and monitors vary depending on age and equipment. AfB currently pays between 140 and 190 euros for an iPhone X, between just under 100 and 120 euros for a Samsung Galaxy S9 and between 20 and 220 euros for laptops.
“Five years to my credit”
“On average, devices are five years old,” says Büchle, with large management consulting firms typically replacing laptops after three years, while devices used in the public sector can be ten years old. “For some companies, it’s a benefit that employees get new devices quickly, and where the taxpayer is looking, PCs last longer,” said Büchle.
Computer devices that are used for a long time save precious resources, raw materials and CO₂, they protect the environment and the climate. The e-waste monitor shows that a lot of things are thrown away quickly – whether it’s because customers want the latest iPhones or cellphones etc. are often difficult to repair and are often even more expensive than a new inexpensive device to buy. In 2019, 52.6 million tonnes of electronic waste were produced worldwide, with each German responsible for an average of 19.4 kilograms. And only 17.4% of all electronic waste has been properly collected and recycled.
Anyone who chooses a used appliance or sells their old appliances to a renovator creates ecological added value: “A lifespan of ten to 15 years is quite possible here,” explains Daniel Büchle. Even though a laptop might not work with Windows anymore, but with the free Linux operating system. Most importantly, high quality laser printers could be used for 15 years or more. And these are certainly in demand.
“Monitors should now be 22 inches”
Because even with second-hand devices, there are models that are coveted and hard to sell. “The monitors now have to be 22 inches in size so that they can also be bought second-hand,” explains Nicolai Gräff, Head of Partner Management at AfB. No one wants 19 inch monitors anymore. Even schools to which devices are donated would not accept this. Wholesale sells much better with laptops too. “Anything less than 14 inches is not for sale.”
There are also small differences between laptops and cellphones sold in the online store and in local stores. “Optically flawless ones go to the online store”, explains Gräff, otherwise there would be too many returns. Even though customers really knew it was used goods. Devices that were unable to remove all scratches are then taken to the store man and woman.
According to Büchle, many seniors shop at AfB stores, located in eight German locations such as Nuremberg, Paderborn and Cologne. “They are often overwhelmed in large electronics stores. In Cologne, they dared to experiment with the opening of a store right next to a media market, where everyone can now see that used does not mean damaged or unusable.