How to Implement Circular Economy for Technology Company
28 Sep 2020
Given the latest advances in technology and the rapid evolving of countless industries forms, it’s not that hard to imagine colossal releases of waste and emissions, resulting in global pollution. Not to mention other paint points, like wasteful expenditures and issues related to transportation to landfills or incinerators. We can’t either forget we are currently utilizing way more resources than our planet can provide, and it’s especially critical, considering the world population is forecast to reach almost 9 billion in 2035.
According to the survey, global waste is expected to grow up to 3.40 billion tons by 2050, which would become a terrible environmental disaster. To overcome these obstacles, we have to completely reshape the producing and usage policies, as well as come up with recycling and reusing the products that we already have. A life-saving recipe lies in the transfer from an original “make-use-dispose” model to an alternative “produce-use-reuse” circular economic system.
It’s not just a buzzword; it’s about extending the lifetime of products. As the name suggests, it’s a closed-loop business model that allows companies to recycle and reuse various products in new ways after their life cycles come to an end. The primary goal here is to reduce waste generation to a minimum and keep it out of landfills and incinerators as long as possible, so the production and use cycles of the tech companies remain as a closed-loop system.
To have a clear understanding of this term, watch the video below.
A lot of businesses consume valuable energy for manufacturing new products, which will eventually be sent for disposal, instead of implementing an alternative solution. According to the research, shall industries adopt a circular economy, greenhouse gases would be reduced by 9.3 billion metric tons in 2050.
On the other hand, it’s vital to remember that all stakeholders need clear and visible digital data on a product. This way, they can transfer to a circular economic model and to find new customers and partners in that particular sector. That’s where a digital circular economy steps in and helps companies to acquire valuable info on a product, as well as ensure the quality and traceability of the data.
To be more specific, to design sustainable production, companies require the following information on products, resources, components, etc.:
The manufacturing method
Type of package
Production residues, etc.
How Circular Economy Empowers Tech Companies
The technology sector is implementing this strategy worldwide, as of multiple highly valued benefits, such as opening new market horizons, reduced exposure to the environment, non-waste production, etc. Such an economic model is especially useful in the B2B market. Let’s have a closer look at six different cases to see what significant implementation directions a circular economy can offer to a tech company:
Circular Design. Considering that most companies still have strong ties to the linear “make-use-dispose” economy, the circular strategy in this case is aiming at redesigning everything around, whether that be business models, products, or mindset. As a core of the circular economy, the design is what highlights its key principle – reducing pollution and putting waste to good use.
For example, Philips introduced the new light-as-a-service model, when a client only pays for the lighting service instead of purchasing bulbs by himself. The results are improved maintenance of the items and fast repairs. By using reactive motion sensors and controllers, lights producer could keep the energy consumption to a minimum.
Since Philips remains the owner of lighting materials, the company fixes them when needed and manages wisely to prolong their use.
Keep in use for longer. To retain sustainability and prolong the life of technical devices for preserving our planet and keeping waste away from landfills, companies have to develop and create long-lasting and easy-to-repair products. It’s especially true with household and office equipment.
Another way to extend the lifecycle of your tech equipment is to verify the battery's state, its current capacity, and replace it if needed. Protecting your devices from water, freeing up the storage space by deleting the unnecessary files are small steps you can take to make your gadgets work longer.
Reuse/Redistribute. Re-usage or secondary resale of products can extend their lives, thus clearing space in landfills. It works for a whole product itself, as well as for components. A great example here is globally recognized “second-hand.”
Refurbish/Remanufacture. These renewal procedures or restoring processes allow companies to put a product to original condition, restore specific functions, or even modernize the current ones. With remanufacturing processes on board, companies enjoy reduced materials and energy consumption, as well as enhanced profits, compared to the original production.
Recycle. As the most crucial stage of the entire circular economy – recycling is the process of extracting raw materials and components from out-service products for further manufacturing. By avoiding landfills, the materials like papers, plastics, metals, rubber, glass can give life to new products, thus saving energy and money for business, and, most importantly, reducing exposure to the environment.
Rent. Product renting or product-as-a-service can provide both customers and service providers with a business model based on close collaboration. Such a business solution allows us to develop the most efficient products and services, and improve it, according to insightful feedback. A provider has the ownership of a product, while a customer enjoys their usage period, so there is no need to acquire personal products and services. Once a product is out-of-service, it can then be recycled into a new one.
5 Promising Circular Economy Startups
The Circulars have announced the best circular startups of 2019. Here are 5 of the best circular economy examples:
Close the Loop. Founded in Australia, the company was focused on extracting valuable components from out-of-service printer cartridges and soft plastics, and putting it to good use. In the end, they managed to develop an innovative solution – the company is mixing the components with asphalt and recycled glass to produce a top-quality road surface.
Sulapac. This Finland company is eager to fix the issues with plastic straws, cutlery, and tumblers, which will be forbidden in the EU from 2021. Their solution is biodegradable, recyclable products made from wood residues and natural binders, which can save the day and provide companies with environmental-friendly alternatives.
Lehigh Technologies. The tire industry is crucial for our modern life for obvious reasons, so it’s no wonder this sector has a lot of waste, including worn-out tires. This Atlanta-founded company aims at recycling tires into rubber powder or so-called reclaimed rubber for further use in tire manufacturing as one of the key ingredients, or other industries, like asphalt and plastics, to name a few. Lehigh Technologies is planning to enlarge their area of activity and present themselves in many countries.
CelluComp. This Scottish company is focused on replacing cement with a sustainable material, as of cement industry reaches nearly 7-8% of the global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Their cutting-edge solution is an agent called Curran, which is produced by extracting cellulose nanofibers from waste root vegetables. Curran is widely used in concrete, paints, pharmaceuticals, and even food industries. It’s a great alternative to preserve nature and the whole ecosystem.
HYLA Mobile. The era of smartphones and tablets has changed the very way we live, work, and rest, offering once-unthinkable possibilities and benefits. Unfortunately, the flip side of the coin is that supply has overtaken demand, resulting in landfills are full of out-service gadgets. To fix that, this company recycles and reuses the old devices or their components. According to some estimates, the company recycled about 50 million devices, which brought a $4 billion profit.
With all that said, we must preserve our planet, our nature, our home for the greater good, for our children. The ultimate recipe lies within solutions, like a digital circular economy. The entire world has to stick with this strategy to contribute to world-saving. However, companies will need expert help to acquire insights on the products and implement such economic models into their business ecosystems.
We, at ByteAnt, are focused on building state-of-the-art solutions, and always ready to provide you with professional advice, and offer a highly competitive digital solution for your company’s needs. In case you have any questions regarding the circular economy, or any tech issues, please feel free to contact us.
Whether you are creating a cloud-based or a hybrid solution, we have the technical expertise you need.
Valeriy is CEO of ByteAnt with over 15 years of experience in software development always focusing and embracing new technologies IoT and SaaS. Besides leading the ByteAnt, Valeriy is a public speaker on tech talks, events, and meetups; mentor and marathon runner.