Selling refurbished electronics at lower prices to reduce e-waste

Would you buy a used phone? What if I told you that it is fully refurbished meaning it has been cleaned, tested for defects and perfectly fit for sale at up to 70% of its original price?

That’s what Reebelo is trying to do. Originally launched in Singapore in 2019, the company has now expanded its services to Australia, New Zealand and now Malaysia, after funding US $ 1.25 million in its start-up cycle.

Giving a second life to electronic waste

As awareness of environmental issues increases, consumer behavior shifts towards green and sustainable purchasing options. All measures taken to reduce waste, no matter how small, can go a long way.

Reebelo is a platform that sells refurbished devices at a lower cost, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop or even headphones. To clarify, the terms “refurbished” and “used” actually mean separate things.

Some recent iPhone models can be found on their Malaysian site

Refurbished devices have been cleaned and tested to ensure they function and are free from defects, therefore fit for sale.

However, used devices may or may not be refurbished. “Generally, if they are in good working order, they can be sold as is or with minimal cleaning,” Shen Ong, country manager of Reebelo Malaysia told Vulcan Post.

Gain customer trust

Personally, I’m skeptical of buying refurbished devices, especially when done online through peer-to-peer e-commerce sites like Carousell. Unless I know the history of the device and have physically tested the phone myself, I wouldn’t take that risk.

Likewise, Shen Ong admitted that this was one of the biggest stigmas on what his company was trying to do. “The main sacrifice a consumer makes when buying used devices is their confidence,” he said.

“Over 95% of refurbished or used devices work without a problem, but for those who have problems, it is the seller’s responsibility to ensure good warranties and return policies,” he said.

Therefore, Reebelo purchases its refurbished devices from approved third-party vendors who must ensure the functionality of a device by inspecting them against a 40-point checklist. They cover device battery health, screen condition, and operation buttons, to name a few.

To add, Reebelo also has a warranty and return policy. In the event that the product does not meet your expectations or if you have changed your mind, you can return it and get a refund within 14 days. However, the device must be returned in its original form and free of any passwords from iCloud, Google accounts, etc.

The items will also come with a free 3-month warranty, which is covered by Reebelo’s supplier partners.

Building a circular economy

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“In 2019 alone, the world generated 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste, and this problem will only get worse over time. We believe reselling refurbished technology devices will help alleviate this very real problem, ”said Shen Ong.

So far, Reebelo claims to have saved 600 tonnes of e-waste in 2020, playing its role in building a circular economy by reducing waste by extending the life of existing resources.

Across the road, Reebelo has a buyback program in which the public can sell their old devices to Reebelo, who will refurbish them through outsourced suppliers. Reebelo will then sell it to new customers for a profit, which is how the platform monetizes.

Shen Ong told Vulcan Post that they have yet to launch this program in Malaysia. However, I think it would be a good decision for them to do so, as more players providing such services could increase the country’s e-waste recycling rate, which is currently 25%.

It would also increase my confidence as a consumer to buy these refurbished devices from them. Having a buyback program would suggest that these refurbished electronics previously came from actual users, not some sort of dump.

Instead of upgrading to the last model year after year, shopping for refurbished technology helps combat this problem by reducing the consumer’s carbon footprint. Additionally, Reebelo is committed to planting a tree for every transaction on our website.

Shen Ong, Country Manager of Reebelo Malaysia.

  • You can read more about Reebelo here.
  • You can read more articles on Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Philip Franta and Fabien Rastouil, Co-Founders of Reebelo

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