How The Technology Sector Can Take These Five Actions To Reduce Waste

A new circular mind-set is quickly replacing the old linear production model of the technology industry. In this article, we examine five actions that the technology sector can implement to significantly reduce the amount of e-waste produced not only within their operations but globally. These actions also bring the potential for improving operating costs, reducing regulatory constraints, and improving brand integrity.

1. Design Products with Waste Minimization in Mind

There is no silver bullet in terms of design for waste minimization. Instead, what determines the success of the design is whether it fits within the broader system in which the device operates. As such, businesses must first identify the waste minimization design strategy that fits with their business model, as well as the wider ecosystem.

It could be that you design for durability, or for maximum adaptability and reparability. Whichever strategy you decide upon, the focus should be on preserving material value, such as increasing the ease of partial disassembly, and only using materials suitable for a circular economy (read about that here).

Whether designing for durability or adaptability, partial disassembly is always required, since components such as batteries rarely last the full lifetime of the device and need to be easily removed for remanufacturing or recycling.

2. Transition to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is on the rise and has the potential to both reduce computing demands for hardware and also to change our relationship with physical products.

As more computing occurs through the cloud, hardware capabilities will become less important than connectivity. Combined with longer operating system stability, this has the potential to reduce the pace of hardware obsolescence.

User data stored in the cloud may also ease users’ transition between devices, since most people are more attached to the data in their devices than to the actual products themselves.

3. Match Products to Changing Needs

Manufacturers are increasingly providing real-time product performance communication for their hardware components, which identifies at which point they are no longer able to supply the required functions, and then guides the user when they need to be changed. This allows for products to be circulated between users with different and changing needs.

The use of big data and advanced analytics can vastly increase the effectiveness of this matching exercise and help predict reverse logistics demands.

4. Increase the Efficacy of the Reuse Market

By improving the transparency of pricing, product specs, product condition and traceability, the secondhand market could be vastly improved and made safer and more accessible for the end user.

Manufacturers and brands can support users in reselling their devices by providing them with information such as:

  • Price estimates
  • Product information
  • Specifications and condition
  • Certified refurbishment and remanufacturing activities

By increasing trust and transparency, manufacturers will assist users in buying and selling devices, and they will be able to see the real value in secondhand devices. This would counter the two greatest perception barriers to the reutilization of used and refurbished devices.

5. Invest in Better Disassembly, Recovery, and Refurbishment

Increasing the level of automation in these processes will increase the output of the facilities and reduce the processing time. Better quality of materials and greater yield will help to improve the economic case for recycling, moving the process away from what has previously been a very labor-intensive operation.

By leveraging robotics and machine learning technologies, and sharing relevant information, businesses could rapidly automate and improve this process.

Waste Minimization is Easier with NWA

National Waste Associates (NWA) has provided waste management expertise to the technology sector for decades. Our team of experts guide our customers through their waste minimization journeys, tailoring our solutions to the specific challenges and requirements of each location.

We survey each location for recycling, diversion, repurposing and reuse opportunities that go beyond what is required of you by the relevant legislation, and then use our vast network of suppliers to find the top solutions for each aspect of the process.

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