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Circular Economy Electronics

Blog > Circular Economy Electronics
Posted: 
April 23rd, 2022

While we like to stay positive, we think you should be aware of some harsh facts:

  • According to the World Counts website, the world generates about 50 million tons of e-waste every year (and that number could grow up to 500%). 
  • In 2019, only 17.4% of the 54 million metric tons of e-waste was recycled. Everything else was possibly “recycled” in the more cost-effective way—burning it. This puts toxic chemicals into our environment. Even if not burned, when electronic waste is tossed into a landfill, toxic chemicals can leach out and seep into the groundwater and air.
  • This throwaway economy—with its escalating use of resources—is already having a devastating effect on humans, wildlife, and our planet.

With our tendency to replace laptops every 3 to 5 years and cell phones every 2 years (along with other e-waste products), it’s difficult not to be a part of this devastating cycle.

But don’t worry! We’re here to offer an alternative solution and a little bit of hope. 


Hope for the Future: A Circular Economy 

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation explains a circular economy in this way:

“In our current economy, we take materials from the Earth, make products from them, and eventually throw them away as waste – the process is linear. In a circular economy, by contrast, we stop waste being produced in the first place.”

At this point, only about 8.6 % of the global economy is circular. According to WeForum.Org, this needs to double along with other mitigation efforts to avoid complete environmental breakdown.

There are 4 primary goals of a circular economy:

  1. Make better use of finite resources.
  2. Reduce emissions.
  3. Protect human health and biodiversity.
  4. Boost economies by reducing waste, stimulating innovation, and creating employment opportunities.


What does a circular economy mean for electronics? The transition to a circular economy requires input from everyone involved—from designer to consumer and everyone in-between.

It works something like this:


Design


Much of the environmental impact comes from the design. To be more environmentally conscious and part of the circular economy, these steps must happen:

  • There must be incentives and technical support to design for longevity. This means electronic products should be durable, easy to repair, or easy to upgrade.
  • The lifestyle of electronic products must be designed for longevity.
  • Electronic products should be made from recycled materials.
  • Electronic products should also be able to be recycled again at the end of their life.

Producers and Sellers

  • Those producing electronic products must have easier access to recycled materials.
  • Those marketing these products must provide clear messages and incentives to consumers and make it easy to bring back electronic products for recycling or upgrade.


Responsible Recyclers

  • If a product is no longer suitable for use or reuse, it should be recycled using socially and environmentally responsible practices.


Consumers

This is where you come in, and it’s important!

  • Both individual and large-scale consumers must demand products that feed the circular economy and support reusing materials. 
  • Before you trade something in, make sure that the item is going to be recycled in a responsible manner. By asking questions, this will help producers understand the importance of making sincere efforts at being part of a circular economy. 


If you’re interested in learning more about why we need a circular economy and some of the other necessary elements for creating one, check out “The Circular Economy Action Agenda for Electronics” put out by Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy” (PACE)


Contribute to the Circular Economy Today!


Here is some good news! You can contribute to the circular economy by recycling your old electronics (and buying new ones that use recycled materials).If that’s not enough, you can get back gift cards for top brands with up to 20% more than the value of your device. Not only will you be doing good for the environment and our future, but you will be doing something special for your finances.

How do you join the circular economy? Reach out to Ncentiva today to trade in your old phone, laptops, tablets & smartwatches!

Let’s save the world, one recycled product at a time.

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