3 min read


Jamie Rae, CEO of Redeem and director of Redeem Asia

Jamie Rae

Under the spotlight this month is Jamie Rae, CEO of Redeem and director of Redeem Asia. Redeem is an international recovery, reuse and recycler of mobile phones, iPods, electronic devices and printer cartridges. Redeem’s vision is to be a world leader in the recovery, reuse and recycling of these products, plus in business ethics and innovation. It believes all organisations have a responsibility to contribute positively to society and the environment.

MB: There has been huge growth in mobile phone recycling in the last six months, with new companies springing up everywhere. Why do you think this is? Is it a desire of the industry to go green, or is it more about vast sums of cash out there waiting to be made by savvy businesses? Is there room in this market for all those newer businesses that are now appearing, or is this sector already the property of established businesses such as Redeem?

JR: With around 20 million handset sales per annum in the UK there are large volumes available for reuse. I believe the current spate of new businesses in the sector is primarily down to fi nancial opportunism. There is no doubt there is demand for used handsets, however the current proliferation and variances in the market will, I believe, lead to consolidation.

Another important factor is the lack of dimension to many of these businesses.

The more established players tend to have a wider product recovery base. For example, Redeem provides solutions to network operators, dealers, plus major retailers including Boots, Sainsburys and Tesco Ireland, amongst others, and has a signifi cant international dimension. This, coupled with our commitment to excellence in service and value for our clients, helps us maintain our position in the market.

There are continuing opportunities for mobile phone recovery as the awareness around environmental concerns grows. This, coupled with the asset value that can be derived from handsets will possibly see more entrants in this space. At the moment there is room in the market, however the consumer will ultimately decide where they feel they are getting best value and where their devices will be put to best use.

Redeem differentiates itself in many ways from the competition, primarily through its key focus on social responsibility. Our ethical trading policies ensure we are rigorous in who we supply, what their ethical stance is and ultimately whether our partners have bona fi de systems in place to ensure protection for their staff, no use of child labour and proper environmental protections. Our policies are also lauded in the UK where we have won 36 awards in the past seven years alone primarily for our business performance and commitment to corporate social responsibility.

MB: What happens to the handsets sent to mobile phone recycling companies? Redeem has recently announced the opening of a new processing and sales offi ce in Hong Kong – what are the business opportunities in Asia for recycled handsets, when Japan is just round the corner? What sort of devices are most in demand in that geographic area in the recycled sector? What do you see as the future hot markets for recycled mobile phones?

JR: Many mobile phone recovery companies have a variety of routes for resale of their recovered products. These include small batch sales to small traders; direct sales through the internet including eBay and Amazon; sales to Africa usually through agents who come directly from Africa to collect the product; and supplies to insurance companies for swap-out devices, usually after complete refurbishment.

However, the vast majority of mobile phone handsets recovered in the UK, and indeed throughout many parts of the world, end up in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a world hub for mobile phone repairs, refurbishment and resale. With regular weekly auction and direct sales there can be millions of mobile phone handsets traded monthly in Hong Kong.

It is for this reason that Redeem decided to set up Redeem Asia. I believe we are the only UK owned facility in this sector in Hong Kong. This again differentiates Redeem from our competitors, allowing us to maximise the value for each product by effectively cutting out the middle men.

The markets we supply range from Indonesia, India, China to Europe and South America. There is an ongoing demand throughout parts of Asia, South America and beyond for used mobile phone handsets. In terms of recovering handsets from the local market in Hong Kong and other Asian territories, we have a well developed strategy which we are currently implementing. This includes collaboration with well known consumer brands and the government of Hong Kong.

Waste handsets, which are of no real value, are handled by licensed waste experts in the country of origin. We have a variety of service providers handling this for us. As a business Redeem aims for zero landfi ll and we are working very hard to maintain this policy and continue developing programmes to help improve our impact on the environment.


The IMPDA (Independent Mobile Phone Dealers Association) aims to achieve a level playing fi eld for its members, and to champion quality improvements in the industry for a better future. For more details: membership@impda.co.uk