Less known is a related market that’s almost as huge. The market for reusing and refurbishing redundant devices is growing fast, and it’s sustainable by nature. A new development by the market leader is now making reuse ‘closed loop’.
Reusing electronics makes sense from an economic and social perspective. Selling a used device means getting cash for stuff you don’t need. And it often gets a second life in the hands of someone that would not have been able to afford a new product. A young firm came up with a way to also increase the environmental profile of reuse, related to the fact that used devices sold on the global market can’t be tracked and could end up as waste in the wrong places.
Dutch company Closing the Loop offers a ‘circular service’ that allows for waste-free reuse. It collects and recycles an end-of-life device for each used device sold on the global market. And here’s the unique part: Closing the Loop collects solely out of countries where electronic waste collection is not formalized.
This type of ‘e-waste compensation’ had been adopted by organisation across the globe. It has been recognised as a way forward in ‘circularity’, the economic model that aims to prevent waste. Closing the Loop’s work complements, or completes, the work done by reuse firms, also known as IT asset disposition (ITAD) firms. But the 8 year old firm was looking for ways to scale its solution.
Ingram Micro, a global leader in ITAD, saw an opportunity to make e-waste compensation a new standard for the electronics industry. The two organisations are now bringing together the best of two worlds: an inclusive ‘closed loop’ for IT, available at scale.
“While we know the notebooks we recycle internally go through a responsible disposal process, we don’t have control over the disposal of notebooks we resell,” Todd Zegers, global vice president of ITAD at Ingram Micro, states. “So, we decided to take proactive measures to compensate them. By reselling them for re-use and working with Closing the Loop, we’re not only giving the notebook computers a second or third life, we’re also ensuring an equivalent amount of electronic waste is removed from the global waste stream in the event future owners of the notebooks don’t recycle them responsibly – and the devices end up in a landfill.”
“E-waste is often seen as a problem, but it also represents opportunities for making existing IT processes greener, or waste-neutral. Shifting e-waste to where it can be recycled in a responsible manner gives valuable resources a new life, keeping them in the loop of the circular economy,” says Closing the Loop founder Joost de Kluijver. Through Closing the Loop’s partners in Africa, its circular services have ensured the recycling of over 3 million scrap phones since 2012.
According to Mr. De Kluijver, it’s quite important that firms like Ingram Micro are making a contribution towards a more sustainable tech industry. “As IT departments often have little knowledge of green IT, it’s essential to make sustainable IT services appealing and very easy to implement”, De Kluijver states. “It really helps IT managers if their current vendor adopts green services, so the manager gets ‘hassle free sustainability.’”
Ingram Micro and other IT service companies can also help tech manufacturers see the value in circular solutions “when waste reduction is turned into a service,” De Kluijver said. “A solid service that’s both widely available and a no-brainer, means waste-free IT Hardware becomes available for anyone”.