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Why consumer tech needs to embrace the circular economy

The giants of consumer tech have prospered during the pandemic, with Apple and Samsung in particular announcing yet more triumphant sales figures. But another set of numbers provides an altogether more sobering read: the sector generated a record 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste in 2019 – up 21% on 2014’s total – according to research published last year by the Global E-Waste Statistics Partnership.

E-waste has become the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream – a problem that’s been compounded by increasing consumption, shortening product lifespans and limited repair options, as anyone who’s ever tried to get an old laptop fixed will know only too well. Less than 20% of e-waste is collected and recycled, leaving the rest, much of which contains toxic chemicals, destined for landfill or incineration. Enabling the circular economy in consumer tech

The environmental impact of e-waste stretches far beyond the toxicity of its components. “During 2020, more than 100 billion tonnes of raw materials were extracted from the earth – the most ever,” says Otto De Bont, CEO of Renewi, a waste-management company operating mainly in the UK and Benelux.

The first goal of Renewi’s five-year sustainability strategy is to “enable the circular economy”. To this […]

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