3 Industry Experts Share Insights into Circular Economy

November 09 - 2021

Introduction to the Circular Economy in IT Asset Management

Technology provides tremendous positive impacts in virtually all sectors of life, but its proliferation has introduced a new and pressing problem – increasing global electronic waste. The UN Global E-waste monitor reported that the world generated 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste in 2019, up 21 percent since 2014. 

By January 2021, there were 6.37 billion smartphone users globally or 78 percent of the world population. This number continuously rises, and existing smartphone users update their devices every 2-3 years. What happens to these devices at the end of their lives?

This blog explains the concept of the circular economy – how to utilize technology to minimize environmental impact. 

A New Circular Vision for Electronics

Achieving sustainability in IT asset management is only possible when we envision a circular economy. The circular economy transitions away from the current linear economy, which operates as follows:

  • Take resources from the ground

  • Use these resources to make a computing device

  • Use the computing device until you want/can afford another one, even if it works

  • Get rid of it without proper recycling

The circular economy reimagines this process by seeking to create a closed-loop. This starts from sourcing resources to discarding them at the end of usable life as follows:

  • Sourcing – innovate in the ways of product sourcing to decrease environmental impact. This means abandoning traditional mining and extraction to use post-consumer materials, low-carbon materials, or procuring in secondary markets.

  • Designing – creating products to be durable and have reusability. Considering safe refurbishment and recycling capabilities from the start. 

  • Manufacturing – implementing waste and carbon reduction initiatives and repurposing materials, components, and packaging scraps into components for new devices.

  • Use – choosing devices that have a smaller carbon footprint and high energy efficiency. Choose models with servicing and disposal pans to ensure life extension and future value. This also includes ensuring proper maintenance and usage to extend the life of the device and replace only when completely necessary.

  • Life extension – partner with an IT asset disposal partner to ensure old devices can be refurbished and given second lives with benefits to marginalized communities without access to digital devices (promoting digital equity).

HP has been lauded as one of the most sustainable companies in the world. It has been responsible for over $1 billion in new sales of products built with sustainability in mind for the last two years. Its 50,000+ employees are mandated to set sustainable impact goals during their annual goal-setting processes. Read more about their ongoing efforts. 

Final Thoughts

Now more than ever, companies and individuals must access efficient mobile and computing technologies, but this should not come at the expense of our environment. 

Compugen is one of the pioneer sustainable IT asset disposal companies globally, with several initiatives to divert e-waste from landfills and make a positive social impact on underprivileged communities, all while putting money back into the pockets of our customers. 

Learn more about how Green4Good can help your business achieve sustainability in IT asset management.

Ready to begin? Talk to us about your sustainable IT asset management needs. 


Key Strategies to Implement IT Sustainability and Achieve Carbon Neutrality in IT Asset Management

When you look at the sustainability of an IT product – specifically computing devices – you must think about the three stages – before use, during use, and after use. All these stages must be translated into sustainability features. 

Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable IT use models are not the only ways that procurement can think about sustainability. You can begin to prioritize sustainability when looking to make IT purchases. 

Most OEMs provide the carbon information of the devices they sell – an assessment that shows the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacture of that product (extraction of resources, creation of components) and the day-to-day device usage.

Procurement departments can use this information to select devices that meet their business needs while maintaining a minimal environmental impact and lowering energy use requirements – the latter saves the business money. 

This simple step may not look like much. Still, for an organization purchasing tens to thousands of devices, it dramatically impacts the overall carbon footprint and creates significant cost savings. Sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive, as we have long imagined.

Circularity through Compugen’s FutureValue™ Program

As stated, circularity should start at procuring a computing device and not the end of life. The FutureValue™ program leverages the circular economy principle to help customers save on the upfront costs of new purchases. It gives businesses up to 20 percent discounts on new devices in exchange for giving the devices back to us at the end of use to ensure that the devices are given a second life.

Through FutureValue™, businesses can access higher-performing technology on a smaller budget. Employees get improved efficiency, productivity, limited downtime from repairs, and reduced security exposure. They get FutureValue credits to use at their discretion, such as offsetting additional Compugen service, hardware, or support costs.

Circularity through Compugen’s Green4Good Program

Apart from enjoying discounts on new device purchases, businesses can redirect some of their trade-in revenue (received when they sell back devices to Compugen for disposal) towards good causes in their communities. 

Compugen’s Green4Good program promotes reuse first and responsible recycling second. Customers generate trade-in revenue, which the business can use at their discretion, e.g., inject back into their IT infrastructure or pay it forward to create more positive social/community outcomes. 

In our sustainable asset disposition programs, many customers choose the latter, and Compugen is proud to report that the Green4Good program has made the following impact:

  • Diverted over 1.9M IT assets from landfills, with 92 percent reuse rates

  • Raised over $3.5 M for over 225 charities

Carbon Neutrality and the CarbonBack Initiative

Carbon neutrality is a situation where a company offsets all its carbon emissions. They must do it internally first through internal carbon reduction strategies. However, they cannot do it all in-house. Therefore, they acquire carbon credits from projects such as CarbonBank, solar energy farms, and wind farms.

Compugen is the first IT asset disposition company in the world to create a carbon credits protocol for refurbished and resold IT assets. Companies can use these self-generated credits to achieve carbon neutrality.

CarbonBank’s unique protocol was developed in collaboration with an environmental impact company and verified by an independent third-party QA company. To date, CarbonBank has developed over 500,000 verified carbon credits.

By collecting refurbishing and reselling technology, the program eliminates the need for new equipment to be manufactured. Thus carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing of new technology are not incurred, hence provided as a credit to the business.

Summary: Achieving Sustainable IT Asset Management

In the concept of the circular economy, companies should implement several strategies to improve eco-sustainability. Take a cue from this list, which details some of HP’s strategies towards IT sustainability:

  • Accelerate device-as-a-service – supplies reuse, hardware as a service, and certified pre-owned hardware

  • Transition to sustainable materials – increase the use of renewable materials and recycled plastic and metals

  • Decarbonize supply chain – drive/support supplier carbon reduction, choose renewable electricity sources, adopt surface transportation, use eco-friendly fuels and electric vehicles for product shipment

  • Design for energy efficiency – design in existing and new energy-efficient product technologies

  • Invest in forests – address the fiber used in printing and packaging by investing in forest restoration and protection

Compugen embeds sustainability into our IT services and offerings lifecycle in all stages where this is possible. 

Find out how our programs can help you achieve sustainability in IT asset management. 

IT and a Circular Economy Webinar Playback


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