A circular economy is a type of economic model that looks to keep resources in the economy for as long as possible by recycling, upcycling and making the absolute most out of what we already have. It’s a concept that’s growing in popularity as our impact on the environment continues to cause problems for societies at large. One area, in particular, that is looking to adopt a circular economy is the tech industry, which is highly dependent on rare, precious minerals to create circuit boards, chips and other technology.
In this article, we’re going to look at how tech is adopting the circular economy to lessen our environmental impact and get the most out of what we already have.
What is the circular economy and how does it work?
The current economic model that we’re familiar with is known as a linear economy. This involves extracting resources and using them to meet a specific purpose or demand. When we’re finished using that resource, we dispose of it. For example, we produce over 53 million tonnes of electronic waste every year from smartphones, computers and other forms of technology.
What’s worse – the vast majority end up in landfills or other unknown locations. E-waste is becoming a growing concern from both an economic and environmental point of view – many of the resources lost to e-waste are both expensive and toxic to the environment. So it’s clear something has to be done to cut back on all of this e-waste.
Another issue is the finite nature of the resources used in technology. Rare metals such as Cadmium, Zinc and Gallium are hard to source but essential for all types of gadgets and tech, including smartphones.
The environment and ecosystems within use a cyclical system that reuses materials to their fullest via biodegradation. Environmentalists and individuals who research our impact on the world are already calling for society to adopt a similar cyclical approach to living. To do that, we must open up to the idea of a circular economy that gets the most out of all of our resources. The classic adage of reducing, reusing and recycling has never been more true.
How tech is adopting the circular economy
One of the most important areas of the economy to adopt this circular economy is tech, as they rely on precious minerals and metals for much of their components and hardware. By salvaging resources such as metals or components from defunct equipment, the tech industry can get more life out of discarded materials, rather than leaving them in landfills.
At an individual level, we should be doing more too – like using refurbished iPhones and smartphones instead of buying new every few years. At a commercial level, companies need to find ways to do this on a much larger scale, which might require extra help. Companies like Network 2 Supplies perform bioleaching services and IT recycling for companies looking to reuse their waste. This allows for a more circular economy to be reached across industries, rather than at an individual level.