The making of a circular phone: How Fairphone reached a 75% recyclability rate on Fairphone 4 by implementing circular changes


As we journey towards a circular economy, collaboration is crucial to make sure change happens and we move forward like-mindedly. We’re proud to partner with great circularity frontrunners and it’s rewarding to witness the impact of our work.

Together with our partner KPMG and the launching customer KPN, we embarked on a circularity journey with a company that’s leading the way towards circularity: Fairphone. Through our Product Circularity Improvement Program (PCIP), we took a deep dive into one of their products, the Fairphone 3. The program – and its accompanying software tool – helped us gather a deep understanding of the product design and materials. The detailed analysis can be found in the PCIP data-backed report, generated by the tool, and available here.


Image source: Fairphone.


The analysis helped Fairphone and KPN identify opportunities for circular improvement in the use of materials and design of the product, which were later implemented on the Fairphone 4. Not only were opportunities identified but also implemented, which shows that challenges can be overcome and changes or adaptations in designing and manufacturing circular products is achievable and beneficial for businesses and customers, alike.


Image source: Fairphone.


But Fairphone is not alone in this incredible journey. Deutsche Telekom and Proximus are the latest players adopting the PCIP program to move forward with their circular goals.


Key takeaways


The positive impact can now be measurable and visualized, thanks to intense collaborative work that helped feed our software tool with all the needed data. To sum up the takeaways, here’s an extract by KPMG:

Findings of the investigations into the Fairphone 3 have found their way into strengthening its successor, the Fairphone 4. To underline Fairphone’s commitment to longevity, the newly released model comes with a 5-years manufacturer warranty – an industry first. Overall, the recyclability of the phone has climbed up to 75% and Fairphone 4 contains 60% recycled plastics as compared to 40% in the prior model. Furthermore, the scope of the focus materials has been extended from 8 to 14 materials, e.g. leading to sourcing of ASI certified aluminium.”


You can read the full success story on this insightful KPMG case study or on Fairphone’s own website. But, wait, there is more: you can also listen to a laid-back conversation on episode 8 from Fairphone’s own podcast Fairtalks. The guests include Mart Beune (KPMG), and our Business Developer Rolf Gelpke! You can also listen to the podcast on your favorite podcast player.