Top electronics companies came together with a group of global organizations to set a vision and produce a roadmap that commits them to a circular economy for electronics by 2030. These companies include some of the world’s largest consumer brands and represent nearly $6 trillion total market cap.

The global Circular Electronics Partnership (CEP) marks the first time that experts, business leaders, and global organizations will co-design solutions around this topic. This platform is expected to establish a network of networks to elevate the action and ambition of the industry in a coordinated way.

Collaborators and founding members within the electronics industry include Cisco, Close the Loop, Dell, Glencore, Google, KPMG International, Lanxess, Microsoft, Security Matters, Sims Limited and Vodafone.

The companies have been brought together by a new alliance that includes the following organizations: Global Electronics Council, Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), Responsible Business Alliance, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the World Economic Forum.

“There’s no time to waste in finding sustainable solutions for consumption and production,” says Dominic Waughray, managing director at the World Economic Forum. “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.”

Electronics waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, one estimated at nearly 50 million tons. Research indicates that only 17.4 per cent of e-waste is collected and recycled. This waste is worth an estimated $57 billion annually — offering a unique opportunity for economic growth and resilience, if handled correctly.

Extensive stakeholder collaboration is required to maximize this opportunity — and simultaneously create the systems-wide changes needed for true impact and sustainability.

“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. It’s why we set an ambitious goal to get to 50 percent recycled or renewable materials across our entire product portfolio by 2030,” said Michael Murphy, vice president of product development engineering at Dell. “But as an industry, we need to move faster. Which is why the Circular Electronics Partnership is so important — to drive collaboration and eliminate roadblocks to make bigger strides in circularity.”

CEP’s vision will maximize the value of components, products and materials through their full lifecycles using safe and fair labor, and depending on only circular resources. These shifts will generate economic value while creating social and environmental impact.

Along with the partnership, the group has launched an action roadmap with a schedule that identifies six pathways to circularity. The roadmap focuses on different stages of the value chain to help businesses and partner organizations overcome barriers to circularity.

The six pathways of the roadmap are:

  1. Design for circularity.
  2. Drive demand for circular products and services.
  3. Scale responsible business models.
  4. Increase official collection rate.
  5. Aggregate for reuse and recycling.
  6. Scale secondary material markets.

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