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


31 January 2019

sustainablySMART Policy Brief No.2
The European Commission launched an initiative to harmonise common chargers for mobile phones and similar compatible devices. Life Cycle Assessment results of sustainablySMART indicate, that the environmental impacts of chargers is much more related to ...
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Standardized chargers are required
Standardized chargers are required

31 January 2019

CARE Innovation Vienna 2018
The conference proceedings are now accessible in our results ...
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20 December 2018

Fairphone compiled first Impact Report
Project partner Fairphone is looking back over the past five years: from successfully building up a community, creating two versions of smartphones and achieving crucial improvements on the supply chain. Now and in future times, Fairphone reflects their ...
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Fairphone's Impact Report
Fairphone's Impact Report

17 October 2018

Call for Contributions online - 3rd PLATE 2019 Conference in Berlin

The 3rd Conference on Product Lifetimes and the Environment focuses product lifetimes in the context of sustainability. The conference brings a new community together: PLATE 2019 is organized by Fraunhofer IZM in cooperation with Technische Universität ... [read more]

28 September 2018

Project partner Circular Devices Ltd. discloses new milestone with patent application for modular phone ecosystem
Circular Devices Ltd., the Finnish startup behind the PuzzlePhone, a modular smartphone, announced today the filing of a patent application, “A coaxial connector structure.” The patent forms the foundation for the ecosystem of modularity used by PuzzlePhone, PuzzleIoT, and PuzzleLab. The patent application covers
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Testing rigs for individual testing of each connector
Testing rigs for individual testing of each connector