The Rise of Refurbished Laptops - An Inspirational Case of Sustainable Tech Innovation

Apr 6th 2023


The Rise of Refurbished Laptops - An Inspirational Case of Sustainable Tech Innovation

Imagine this: your refurbished laptop looks great and works perfectly. You found the exact model, color, and specs you wanted. It aligns with your zealous commitment to the planet while also costing a lot less than you anticipated. 

Sounds good right? Maybe too good to be true? Well it’s not.

If you’re thinking that only new devices can fulfill your needs, or that buying refurbished is ‘settling’, then you need to read this. 

You’re not alone - this is a common, though uninformed, perception. And that’s why we think it’s time for a discussion on the rise of refurbished laptops and the innovation that goes into them.

Let’s Start With Some Facts

The Refurbished Computer and Laptop Market Report by Transparency Market Research indicates that by 2031, this industry will be worth US$8 billion with Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific being the biggest markets. The reusing or reconditioning of laptops has opened the floodgates of demand with supply equally rising and showing no signs of slowing down. From academic institutions to global enterprises, these devices have become the bread and butter of modern day connectivity.

Before refurbished laptops rose to prominence (aka the Dark Ages), combating climate change and promoting sustainability was a difficult puzzle for the tech industry to solve. Users constantly required new upgrades and manufacturers were there to fuel this need. With so much e-waste entering landfill, the environment began to suffer.

The preloved laptop market quickly became a key solution - thanks largely to innovations that made it possible to refurbish devices all across the world. 

Refurbished Laptops & Innovative Solutions - 4 Processes That Have Seen The Most Change

It wouldn't be incorrect to say that sustainable technological innovations have been key to the rise of refurbished laptops. Likewise, this sector has blossomed thanks to the demand from consumers for cutting edge technology that is tied to high awareness for environmental sustainability.

The global refurbished laptop market has now reached US$11.3 billion. This is not a small, cottage industry, working to appear on the global map. The refurbed market is a fully fledged eagle ready to soar. It is a sophisticated global network that can ensure a device is delivered to you without a speck of dust under the keys and absolutely no data crumbs in its trail.

And this is all thanks to four key innovations: 

1.    Battery Life & Types 

Where your reconditioned MacBook Air may have led the innovation in design and portability, sustainable battery solutions are the next disruptive innovation on the horizon. There is a lot of research underway that will soon make the short lifespan of batteries a thing of the past. Consider these examples: 

  • Biofuel Laptop Batteries

You may not conjure the image of a clean, gleaming rechargeable battery when you think of biofuels. But really, that’s about to change, all thanks to another innovative solution within the sustainable energy genre. 

Batteries that are powered by a few milliliters of alcohol and enzymes have been in the makes for a few years now at St. Louis University Laboratories. Similar to enzymes in our bodies producing chemical energy, these biofuel cells can help power electronic devices without the reliance on electric power or mass-scale production of metal intensive battery units.
  • Solar Powered Batteries

Solar powered batteries give remote working and living-off-the-grid a whole new meaning. Whether you have access to electricity or not, your refurbished MacBook Pro or Windows Surface 4 will keep you connected and working as you take in the majestic sight of the Rockies. 

Sustainable solar charging is now also part of hiking backpacks, giving on-the-go nature lovers a chance to work while being at their favorite spots around the world.

2.    Data Erasure Software

Imagine questioning yourself whether refurbished laptops are good, and then finally taking the plunge for your first ever reconditioned device. Only to unbox it and find a stranger’s pictures on it… Data crumbs, remember? And not exactly the emotions you wanted to show in the unboxing video! 
Let’s rewind. Thanks to innovative techniques in permanent data erasure, such instances are a far off possibility when you buy refurbished from certified sellers. 
Sophisticated software has the power to erase all past data from preloved laptops without affecting their performance. This can be done wired or remotely, on a single device or a fleet of laptops - the possibilities are endless. 
Professional data erasure reduces security risk, improves efficiency, and plays an important role in smoothening our transition into a sustainable, circular economy for tech.

3.    Hardware & Software Diagnostics 

Running diagnostics tests for renewed laptops is an important step for certified refurbishers. These advanced tests can crawl the internal and external components of a device within minutes. The results drawn point to the health of the laptop and the kind of repairs needed. 
From testing the RAM, memory, and software to the very specs of the webcam, battery, and speakers, refurbished diagnostics have come a long way due to constant innovation. 

4.    Material & Energy Resources

While you may be drawn to a reconditioned MacBook Air 2022 for its sleek and modern design, it’s also worth noting that your favorite notebook is made with sustainable materials and energy sources. 
Apple is one of those forward thinkers that have a very ambitious ‘green’ agenda. The company aims to be 100% carbon neutral by 2030 - for all its processes, products, and the entire supply chain. 
Moreover, a 200 megawatt wind farm in Oregon powers its massive Prineville data center. This is just one in many sites where it has mined renewable energy sources to continue developing cutting edge processes.
Similarly, other tech companies have also risen to the occasion. Case in point: Dell manufacturing laptops that inherently use 25% less energy than previous models. This reduction comes at the heels of efficient circuits, recycled materials, and green sources of power. 


How Far Will This Innovation Take Us?

From alcohol powered cells to upcycling laptop parts, to power developing countries with old batteries- this really is just the beginning of the circular economy journey.  

The United Nations University reported that global e-waste is set to double by 2050. While e-waste is a serious current issue, it can be controlled with innovative procedures that ingrain sustainability at every step; from production to usage, and all the way to disposing and recycling. 

But no one person or organization can do it alone. Refurbished laptops are part of an innovation cycle that will continue if we all support it.

So here’s to lengthening the lifespans of our current laptops, buying refurbished, and being active members of the circular economy. Cheers!