Wisetek’s Commitment to the Circular Economy
Sean Sheehan, CEO of Wisetek, discusses the future of the Circular Economy and how it relates to IT Asset Disposition (ITAD).
When the environment is mentioned in company boardrooms, it’s usually a dreaded topic which has only one outcome – increased costs due to new regulations. It’s a traditional view and pits business against the environment, as though they are adversaries who will never coexist peacefully.
Indeed, as long as companies adhere to the ‘Linear Economy’, this may well be the case. It’s an economic model that has five stages: resource extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and waste. And by waste, we mean waste: nothing is recycled. Instead, typically it’s sent to landfills where not even the soil benefits.
Let’s contrast this with the ‘Circular Economy’. The first three phases remain the same, but instead of waste, the commodity enters the ‘recycling sector’.
The Three Rs – Reuse, Repair, Recycle
The recycling sector encompasses three distinct processes: re-use, repair, and recycle. If you spend five minutes at your local recycling centre, you’ll appreciate the importance of the three Rs. Televisions, white goods, appliances: you will see such items that may well have been superseded by better models, but are in working order and can still find an appreciative home. Surely reusing these products instead of throwing them out makes perfect sense?
And if they are broken, why not fix them for a fraction of the cost of replacing an entire unit? Also, by doing so, you are not draining the earth of precious, and finite, resources.
Lastly, as for the products which are truly past their End of Life (EOL) then they should be destroyed in line with the best environmental practices and legislation. While this may cost a little more, at least you will know that potentially harmful substances (such as the metals inside batteries, for example) are not handled by child labourers in developing countries.
Back to the Future
As with any perceived ‘new’ economic model, it’s important to note that the Circular Economy is not new. In fact, it’s arguably one of the oldest economic models on earth.
What’s new is the Linear Economy and its emphasis on waste as a natural, or even necessary, part of the consumption cycle. The Linear Economy suits a certain type of manufacturer who wants its customers to purchase new products at a preordained time in the future i.e. what is called ‘planned obsolescence’.
If you travel to any developing country their markets are often full of second-hand parts for all types of products. Simply put, if you can’t afford to buy new, you have to re-use or repair.
According to Gartner, 51% of supply chain professionals expect to increase their circular economy focus over the next two years. This will mean different things depending on your industry. From an ITAD perspective, it involves the following:
• Supply chain investments must focus on reverse logistics to make circular systems viable
• Products must be designed for re-use
• Start-up costs/investment is required for repair, refurbishment and retesting
• Product as a Service (PaaS) and Device as a Services (DaaS) will help the Circular Economy
• There needs to be an acceptance of used material in new IT devices
• Huge demand in developing countries for secondary IT equipment
However, while accessing the Linear Economy is straightforward as you can go out and purchase a new product, it can still be tricky to find the right partner to take advantage of the Circular Economy.
Wisetek and the Circular Economy
“From our position, we are at the forefront of the Circular Economy and we strongly encourage our clients to consider its many benefits”, explains Sean Sheehan, Chief Executive at Wisetek.
As part of any long-term ITAD strategy, it’s vital that the ‘End of Life’ phase is seriously considered, and not viewed as just old-fashioned waste.
By performing regular physical audits, we assess the value of our clients’ assets, and as they approach their ‘End of Life’ we can advise on the best approach for each asset, from reselling parts on the global as-new market to disposing of the asset in line with our Zero Landfill Policy.
As more clients adopt such practices, it is estimated that by 2030, the Circular Economy could generate $4.5tn in new economic output.
Take Google, for example: 19% of their newly deployed servers were remanufactured machines, while they remarketed nearly 2.1m units into the secondary market for reuse.
The Future is Circular
What’s great about the Circular Economy is that, while it’s a fundamental shift that has profound implications, it’s an easy process to start following. By questioning the value that old assets have, or tinkering with them to keep certain parts, you’re already on the road.
“We take this approach one asset at a time, and by doing so, we not only save money for our clients but help the planet and its finite resources too”, says Sean Sheehan, CEO of Wisetek.