About the project sustainablySMART

Full project title: Sustainable Smart Mobile Devices Lifecycles through Advanced Re-design, Reliability, and Re-use and Remanufacturing Technologies

In the past, used electronics components were solely re-used in low-cost products, growing digitalization of our daily lives comes with numerous new product concepts, which could make perfect use of parts and components harvested from used smartphones and tablets.

sustainablySMART demonstrates the feasibility of a ‘design for circular economy’ approach for more conventional mobile IT designs, which includes the implementation of environmental design criteria:

  • long lifetime: reliability of target parts and components for second life / cascade reuse
  • reparability
  • design for manual and automated disassembly
  • accomplishment of verified data erasure compatibility
Tablet study by Fraunhofer IZM: Just how easily can they be recycled or repaired?
Tablet study by Fraunhofer IZM: Just how easily can they be recycled or repaired?

Our Goals and Rationale

An effective circular economy approach for smart mobile devices prioritizes lifetime extension of products and components. Modularized smartphones are a promising concept as they are easy to disassemble, to upgrade and to repair. Technically this calls for standardized interfaces.


Regarding the end of first life of such products, it is a challenge to tap into the upcoming wave of waste mobile ICT devices: Smartphones where introduced to the market at large only in 2009, tablets slightly later. We expect in the near-term future high return rates of these devices, which is confirmed by recycling companies. The market perspective indicates that we only see the beginning of a larger wave of discarded units.


This is a perfect timing to invest in research to reuse and refurbish these products with sophisticated technologies. Apart, we consider technological evolution toward the Internet of Things, which may provide a wide field for cascade re-use of single components.


The consortium includes three research institutions, some outstanding entrepreneurs and innovative technology developers.


The interdisciplinary partnership is dominated by industry from all relevant steps of a future sustainable mobile IT life cycle:

  • product designers
  • electronics manufacturing service
  • test house
  • equipment suppliers
  • machinery manufacturers
  • repair tool provider

Latest News

11 March 2020

2nd Circular Economy Action Plan adopted


"With measures along the entire life cycle of products, the new Action Plan aims to make our economy fit for a green future, strengthen our competitiveness while protecting the environment and give new rights to consumers." Many of the planned measures align with the findings and achievements of sustainablySMART.


31 October 2019

Project sustainablySMART comes to a close


All major project results achieved over the project lifetime of 4 years are now published in the Our Results section. The final publishable report and further project information is available in the Horizon 2020 project database

27 August 2019

Fairphone 3 launch


Today Fairphone released its 3rd smartphone model in Berlin. Read more about the Fairphone 3 in this LinkedIn blog and on Fairphone’s website. For a  Fairphone 3 photo gallery check our News section.

20 August 2019

Ready for testing: D4R tablet final assembly

The first few D4R tablets just have been readily assembled by MicroPro in Dublin. Units are on their way to Grant4Com in Finland for CE testing. ... [read more]

17 May 2019

The future of smartphone disassembly

Sophisticated dismantling technologies potentially lead to better recovery of some crucial raw materials. Two Horizon 2020 projects, ADIR (“Next generation urban mining - Automated disassembly, separation and recovery of valuable materials from electronic equipment”) and sustainablySMART, tackle the challenge to separate target components containing metals of high interest... [read more]

24 April 2019

sustainablySMART touches base with the materials research community
Twice a year the materials research community convenes in the US to present and discuss latest findings in materials research. Sustainability is among the focus topics this year, including a symposium “Materials Selection and Design—A Tool to Enable 
... [read more]

22 April 2019

The Data that Remains: Testing Android Phones after Factory Resets
When it comes to mobile phones, the “circular economy” gives second-hand devices a longer life in the hands of users, reduces the need for purchasing brand-new phones, preserves resources and reduces the impact of digital waste on the environment.
This often ... [read more]

Android phone data read-out
Android phone data read-out