Circular electronics

Capturing the value of waste electronics
Circular electronics
Our 2015 report, A circular economy for smart devices, identifies how laptops, tablets and smartphones, which are up to five years old, can be profitably recovered and resold in the UK, US and India. It shows that this would have major environmental benefits: just keeping a smartphone in use for one additional year cuts its lifetime CO2 footprint by 30%.

The report describes six business models that companies can use to design more circular electronics. Doing so would meet consumer preferences for lower cost, longer-lasting electronics, and help bring the benefits of internet connected devices to new consumers in the developing world.

Our 2016 analysis, The end of the upgrade? looks specifically at O2's experience in adapting to a circular economy. It provides new evidence that Sim Only customers are using their phones for longer, nearly six months more than four years ago, which is helping to cut annual carbon emissions significantly.

We recommend a number of innovative schemes that companies can implement in order to create more circular business models. There are also steps that governments can take to encourage companies to implement these models, the most immediate opportunity being for the EU to extend the Ecodesign Directive.

Our 2016 study, Better products by design: ensuring high standards for UK consumersprovides further analysis of the durability and repairability of smartphones.

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