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Big Tech Teams Up to Create a Circular Electronics Economy

Tech giants Cisco, Dell, Google, and others recently teamed up in a brand new partnership designed to develop a circular economy for electronics by 2030. The Circular Electronics Partnership (CEP) is set to fully transform the electronics industry. It marks the first time experts, global organizations, and businesses have teamed up to focus on solving the massive problem of e-waste. E-waste – which includes used computer screens and monitors, lamps, large equipment, and small IT items – is currently the largest growing waste stream in the world, with more than 50 million tons in existence. With less than 20 percent of e-waste currently being collected for recycling, the CEP will focus on greater collection and recycling efforts to mitigate the detrimental global effects of this type of trash.

“Since creating our first OptiPlex desktop with recycled plastic in 2007, we have been on a mission to drive innovative approaches to accelerate the circular economy,” said Michael Murphy, Vice President of Product Development Engineering at Dell Technologies. “It’s why we set an ambitious goal to get to 50 percent recycled or renewable materials across our entire product portfolio by 2030.”

Image from Google Press

In addition to computer manufacturing giants, companies such as KPMG International, Sims Lifecycle Services, and Vodafone have joined the CEP. Partner businesses represent a nearly $6 trillion total market cap, demonstrating their vast influence. But they aren’t alone. The Global Electronics Council, Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative, Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, Responsible Business Alliance, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the World Economic Forum are also a part of the CEP to ensure that this unique opportunity for economic growth and resilience is a success. There’s no doubt CEP will unite a range of leaders in tech, consumer goods, and waste management, helping each sector identify how to do things better.

In fact, CEP’s vision is clear: maximize the value of components, products, and materials through their full life cycles using safe and fair labor. The idea is to create economic value as well as improve both the environmental and social impact of manufacturing. CEP’s immediate commitments are five-fold: define circular electronic products and services; mobilize a global, sustainable commitment; develop a responsible data system; pilot two material track and trace projects; and develop commercial financing options to increase collection. Also, it has developed a road map created by 80 experts from 40 companies to ensure the group reaches its 2030 goals. This road map identifies six pathways to the circular economy, with a particular focus on each stage of the value chain to help businesses overcome any obstacles.

“There’s no time to waste in finding sustainable solutions for consumption and production,” said World Economic Forum Managing Director Dominic Waughray. “The roadmap and vision set forth by the Circular Electronics Partnership will create the necessary momentum to maximize resources, transform value chains and make the circular transition in electronics a reality.”

CEP will undoubtedly reimagine the value of electronic products and materials. With a lifecycle approach, manufacturers can reduce waste from the design stage all the way through the recycling stage. The partnership is set to address all barriers to this circular economy, paving the way for a fully sustainable economy that replaces the current waste-heavy one in less than a decade. 


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