E-waste compensation - a way forward in circularity

Update

July 16, 2020

Social

E-waste compensation - a way forward in circularity

Update

July 16, 2020

Social

Business and consumers buy almost three billion mobile phones, tablets and laptops across the world, every year. However, the rapid development of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is also making it one of the fastest-growing waste streams. As demand for sustainable acquisition grows, the technology industry is under pressure to address their sustainable purchasing policies. E-waste compensation could set the standard in the electronics industry in the future.

 

Dutch company Closing the Loop already offers a ‘circular service’ to businesses enabling them to buy their devices in waste-free manner. The service has now been adopted in a new certification programme called TCO Certified Edge which links the purchase of every new device directly to the recycling of an end-of-life device. This type of e-waste compensation is recognised as a way forward in circularity.

How it works

The certification programme works as follows. Every time an e-waste compensated certified device is purchased, the equivalent amount of e-waste is collected in a country which lacks safe recycling systems. Waste compensation turns circular ambitions into tangible results. As the system focuses on providing workplace services, it increases employee engagement.

“E-waste is often seen as a problem, but it also represents opportunities for green procurement. Shifting e-waste to where it can be recycled in a responsible manner, can give those valuable resources a second life, keeping them in the loop of the circular economy,” says Closing the Loop founder Joost de Kluijver.

Local employment

The compensation system protects the environment from hazardous substances and creates local employment opportunities by buying waste through repair shops and other informal collection channels. The end-of-life phones are shipped to an e-waste recycling plant which complies with strict environment regulations. Closing the Loop, is the first approved collector within the framework of TCO Certified Edge, E-waste Compensated.

 

“Through TCO Certified Edge, E-waste Compensated, we want to give purchasers and the IT industry a powerful tool for combatting e-waste,” says Andreas Rehn, Development Manager, at TCO Development.

 

Closing the Loop’s award-wining service has been adopted by NGOs, the Dutch government and the technology sector itself. Through Closing the Loop's partners in Africa, its circular services have saved almost 3 million scrap phones since 2012. Closing the Loop hopes that by demonstrating the opportunities and benefits of circular procurement for technology, e-waste recycling will also become available in Africa.

Liveable earth

The Dutch government has pledged to meet a 100% circular economy by 2050. In one generation, 9.6 billion people will inhabit this planet. This will put pressure on the earth’s resources. Societies have to step up their game and switch to sustainable sources to feed, clothe and shelter their growing populations. To leave behind a liveable earth, this generation has to learn how to use its scarce raw materials more effectively. The way forward means companies also need to take responsibility for their e-waste as they seek to fulfil their sustainability responsibilities.