Can Buyback Programs Preserve Nonrenewable Resources?


When most people think about e-waste, they focus on the potential for contamination from heavy metals and other toxins found inside electronic devices. These toxins can leak into the soil and groundwater if the items aren’t properly disposed of. This, however, is just one of the problems attending the disposal of old electronics. There is also another problem: the problem of e-waste and sustainability.

Non-Renewable Resources: A Tricky Problem

It turns out that electronics typically include several materials that are surprisingly hard to come by. These rare earth metals aren’t running out in terms of tonnage – the problem is the way they are found. Unlike common metals, they don’t exist in big deposits. Instead, they’re found in small underground deposits that are quick to run out and expensive to mine while they last. This could eventually make it unfeasible to continue to produce electronics in the current way.

Another problem is more obvious–that the plastic that iPhones and other devices use is made from petroleum. Like any other petroleum product, it is therefore subject to the continued supply of oil and contributes to the depletion of fossil fuels. While the fears of running out of oil may be overrated, there’s no denying that supply and demand are very important to the price of black gold. The more electronics are used and discarded, the higher the demand – and therefore, the cost.

Recommerce Offers a Solution 

One of the best ways electronics retailers can counter these programs is to set up a recommerce program. With recommerce, stores offer to buy back old products. This has many benefits for the store as well as sustainability. For the store, one of the main benefits is that these programs motivate customers to upgrade their electronics more often. This is because people won’t feel like they’re wasting a “perfectly good” item by upgrading and also because the buyback lowers their out-of-pocket cost for the new version.

For the environment, the benefits of recommerce are plain. Old but still usable devices are kept out of landfills and reused in a variety of ways. This lowers the need to mine hard-to-get raw materials, slows the draining of oil supplies, and prevents landfill contamination. The combination of increased business for stores offering recommerce and the environmental benefits makes this strategy a winning one for all involved.

To learn more about recommerce and how it can help your business, just contact us. We’ll be glad to explain all of the details and get your store set up to catch the next wave in electronics retailing.

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Matthew Roldan

Matthew is the Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer at Sourcely. He has owned and operated several small businesses and has helped 1000's of SMB's find success online while working as a consultant for