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Circular Economy in Electronics

Everyone is talking about Circular Economy as the solution to become a sustainable brand, but before we jump to that, lets understand it on a deeper level. What will it take to transform the economy into one where waste is eliminated, resources are circulated, and nature is regenerated? Today many governments and companies have understood the importance of Green Technology and initiatives and are working together to find sustainable solutions to this ever growing issue. So what is the answer?

The Circular Economy. It gives us the facility to grow prosperity, jobs, and resilience while cutting gas emissions, waste, and pollution. In a circular economy, waste is not discarded, but repurposed into other products and raw materials are reused as long and intensively as possible over and over again. Waste is the new raw material. With that thought in mind, there is a dire need to come up with innovative solutions, new products and designs that cater to the new age problems and ensure reduction of waste in the long run.

What is a Linear Economy?

The Linear Economy model works on a ‘take-make-dispose’ approach, this has been in use since the dawn of the industrial revolution. it’s the standard model where raw materials are collected and transformed into products that customers use until dumping them as waste, with no concern for their ecological footprint and consequences. It prefers profit over sustainability, with products made to be thrown away once they’ve been used.

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What is Circular Economy?

A circular economy uses and reuses all resources, and uses biodegradable resources as much as possible, enabling the product to be reused or returned to nature. A circular economy, above all, is a thought process that guides the users towards more sustainable living and creates a conscious society that is responsible for its actions and it’s the system that rewards the user for the conscious effort of reducing waste, and going green.

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How is Circular Economy different from Linear Economy?

The key difference is that the linear economy focuses on profitability, regardless of the product life cycle, whereas the circular economy targets sustainability. Linear economy is widespread and has been adopted by everyone post 1st industrial revolution. But solutions of yesterday, cannot solve the problems of today. Take, Make, Dispose this ideology worked great for companies looking to turn a profit without the responsibility of what happens to the material once you dispose it. Linear economy, while revolutionary at the time, is now an outdated business practice and needs innovative solutions to showcase to the world that there is a better way of doing business.

The Linear model of production is eco-efficient because it supplies the market, while the circular model is eco-effective. The life of the final product in a linear economy ends after the customer’s usage, whereas the life of the final product within the circular economy is used as a basic resource throughout the production process. The business model of the linear economy is additionally focused on products, whilst the business model of the circular economy concentrates on service.

Circular Economy in Electronics and Gadgets

Electronics have already become the world’s fastest-growing waste stream, generating an estimated 57.4 million tonnes in 2021. This ‘waste’ stream contains prematurely discarded products and raw materials valued at nearly $60 Billion, this is not only hampering the environment, but is hurting the businesses too, who then have to charge the customers an even higher price on goods, to make up for the losses. Despite this, less than 20% of global e-waste is formally collected and recycled. Changing the electronics sector to Circular economy is a big challenge in itself but necessary for the sustainable future. It’s important to keep the bigger picture in our mind where there’s a world with less or no waste.

The entire circular economy revolves around Take, Make, and Recreate and the process keeps on repeating like a loop, a never-ending process. The big advantage of Circular Economy in electronics sector is it prevents the waste from ever entering landfills or polluting our environment. Electronic waste is non-biodegradable and contains elements that are toxic should they enter the water stream or soil. However, this waste also contains rare earths and metals like Gold, Silver, Copper, Aluminium, Cadmium, Lithium and so on. These elements, once separated, can be recycled and reused 100% of the times and are so expensive to mine, that it makes the effort to recycle them, worthwhile. For these reasons, implementing a circular economy in the electronics sector turns out to be a great proposition as future returns are large enough to make todays investors comfortable.

Challenges of Implementing Circular Economy

The circular economy is about how we manage our waste. The implementation of a circular economy does not stop at education and introduction, there are difficult changes that need to be met. Basically, there are a few things that we need to keep in mind while implementing the circular economy which is as follows:

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        i.            Disruption of Easy Way Out:

The circular economy implementation must be preceded by thorough market research and education for both the producers and the consumers on why we need to manage our resources in a circular kind-of-way: the kind that leaves almost no waste or pollution to the environment.

For example, a producer of mineral water products wants to change his packaging into something environmental-friendly. If he decides to choose paper cartons instead of plastic- it’s light weight but if comes in contact with water it will easily break. The other that he has is of glass but that cannot be considered for large quantities as it will become heavier and can also easily break. Hence, for each of the advantages of plastic that the company is willing to let go of, there is a chance that the customers might find it too inconvenient and will just go and choose a simpler choice instead i.e., the competition’s products with disposable plastic packaging.

So the easy way out is to simply continue using single use plastics, however the responsible way is to put in the time, effort and brains to come up with something equally reliable, easy to use, and price competitive to make it rewarding enough for customers and businesses to make the switch.

     ii.            Lack of Laws and Regulations:

Let’s face it, not everyone understands the importance and urgency of implementing circular economy, hence strict laws and regulations with clear boundaries are needed to bring about this change. Governments around the world are vouching for Green targets for the coming years and are aiming towards carbon neutrality however, the biggest challenge in implementing the same is lack of rewards, if stakeholders feel that by going green, they are taking a loss, then they wont adopt it wholeheartedly.

The government has introduced laws and regulations like EPR, PRO, BSI, etc. to compel manufacturers towards refurbishing, remanufacturing, recycling, and disposal methods for the product. This is the carrot and stick method in which, companies that will be able to participate in the same will get rewarded, and companies that fail to meet their collection targets will be penalized at the end of the year. This however can be further improved using circular economy, wherein the whole system becomes a self sustaining and rewarding loop and all stakeholders are benefited all the time.

   iii.            Lack of Organisations for E-waste Management:

Regulation is just a set of words and thoughts without the human resources and accommodations to run it. We are certainly talking about the money, energy, and time needed to prepare all the requirements after the regulations are made. Established companies need to incorporate sustainable business practices and new start-ups need to emerge for new problems for the post industrial revolution issues. E-waste and Plastic waste are issues that we have caused ourselves by promoting consumerism and wasteful behaviour for centuries. Incentivizing the end user, to be benefited by a responsible act is the only way to ensure maximum retention and implementation of the message.

   iv.            Lack of Recycling Technology:

There are resources that need better recycling technology. In order for the circular economy application to succeed, we need to make sure that the technologies needed to recycle the resources are enough to cover all the industries’ requirements – both in quantity and quality. Collecting E-waste wont solve the problem by itself, we need to be able to recycle that E-waste into something valuable and only then will the economy work. However there is a lot of scope in the same when it comes to electronic waste, components like circuit boards, displays, batteries can all be repurposed and reused in one or the other way. So innovating new products and usable cases of the same is necessary and is an area where engineers and entrepreneurs need to focus on.

   v.            Customer Awareness:

“Awareness is key but, subsequent consumer behavior influenced by the knowledge they have is crucial to making the circular economy a reality. Ultimately, it is this knowledge is that will inspire consumer action to engage in recycling or take-back efforts or try out innovative circular products or services,” says Luca Crisciotti, CEO of Supply Chain & Product Assurance in DNV. In the modern world, customer knowledge about the Circular Economy is growing on a drastic level which makes it even better for the environment. The attitude of customers towards the economy shifting to a Circular Economy is becoming positive. Data shows that only 35.8% haven’t heard of a Circular Economy.

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Customers are considering the impact of their purchasing behaviours where 48.1% prefer to buy the products with recyclable properties and 62.9% prefer to buy the second-hand products.

At Gadget Guruz, we offer you one stop shop for buying, repairing, exchange, etc. You don’t have to hunt for different shops in order to get your electronic to get repaired, or exchange, or even buy a new device for that matter. We, make sure to provide you every support we can irrespective of what device you own. Our main objective is to satisfy what our customer is looking for, to build a trustworthy brand for you.

   vi.            Rewarding System:

What brings more happiness to a customer than discounts? Rewards and gifts, of course, reward-based systems have become prevalent in the new app-based business world. From food delivery to payments, everything that has been brought from the unorganized sector, into the organized one, has a strong rewarding system for the customer to keep them engaged with the company and use their services over and over again. Recycling alone, noble as it is, is not a scalable business proposition as the customer has little incentive and little need for such services.

However, when we put the same into a Circular Economy based system, recycling becomes like petrol at half price for your car. Such a system not only rewards the user, but also rewards the companies and businesses involved in the same. Gadget Guruz has created a system that has some Empathy in its design, we believe that while its necessary for a business to turn a profit, it is also the businesses responsibility to give something back to the community that makes business happen.

Conclusion

One should be aware of his/her surroundings and how they are disrupting the environment. You never experience harm until it’s done, and then you regret it. So, why not be cautious enough today and be in a better environment later? Why not follow the Circular Economy now? Why not think about what we want to leave behind for our grandchildren, a prosperous world, or a pile of garbage? Adopting a Circular Economy today might be a slight shift in our day-to-day purchasing, however, it’s just like changing the habit of smoking and adopting drinking fresh juice instead, in the long run, the latter has a lot of health benefits.

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Gadget Guruz favours, promotes and operates on Circular Economy model. From repair to a new device, everything you see, and buy has been made keeping in mind the circular economy model where we Take, Make, and Recreate and we strongly believe that one should always consider the environment they live in where you take precautions now and live in a happy and better environment later with no regrets. Moving in the direction of circular economy could deliver benefits such as reducing pressure on the environment by decreasing the use of non-renewable resources, improving the security of the supply of raw materials, increasing effectiveness by aiming for zero waste, encouraging innovation, boosting economic growth and generating jobs. Existing companies can also enjoy a more safe supply of resources as we reuse the resources that we already have rather than depending upon digging limited resources from mines. The practice might also improve customer loyalty as consumers today are getting more aware towards environmental causes and want to do business with sustainable brands more than the others.

So, lets all pledge to accept and promote Circular Economy in every acspect of our lives as we can to ensure maximum conservation of our resources and prosperity.

46 thoughts on “Circular Economy in Electronics

  1. This blog provided with a clarity and spread awareness who’s looking forward to work in the field. Well written.

  2. Very nice way of representing circular economy and how to develop the technique of best out of waste

  3. Fantastic blog!!!
    Very informative and useful…
    It was very interesting to know about this topic …
    Great job ..👍👍👍

  4. Relevant and required deets have been provided regarding the concerned topic . Much appreciable attempt. !

  5. Very informative and helpful.
    Explained it in the most simplified language ,so easily understandable 👍🏻

  6. The Blog was very informative and useful. In the upcoming time a lot of recycled materials will be used of making electronics or other items as it’s very environment friendly and reduces pollution.

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