New Vision for Electronics
Circular Electronics Partnership
Ambition of New Vision for Electronics
Unite key stakeholders around an initial vision for electronics, which uses circular economy principals to redefine the electronics value chain and can be translated into a clear action plan.
Why do we need a new vision for the electronics sector?
Electronic goods have become an integral part of our everyday life and bring significant benefits to humanity. They allow us to expand access to education, deliver healthcare to more people and facilitate trade around the world.
At the same time, the current system of production and consumption poses several challenges for people and our planet at each stage:
Resource use: Across the whole value chain – mining, manufacturing, transport, retail, consumption and disposal of electronics – vast amounts of resources are wasted.
End of life: Fast innovation circles and increasingly affordable products encourage users to buy new products more often, leading to the disposal of still functioning devices. But collection rates for devices are low – in Europe alone, 100 million old mobile phones are considered to be sitting in their owner’s drawers.
Disposal: In 2018, 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated, with a material value of around $55 billion – yet, only 20% is being formally recycled. The rest is disposed by informal workers or ends up in landfill, posing a health risk to the workers and their communities and polluting water sources and food supply chains.
How can the electronics sector become more sustainable?
Applying circular economy principles to the electronics sector would allow us to progress towards a more sustainable way of producing, consuming and disposing of electronic goods. To capture this opportunity, we need
- New and innovative business models
- Different approaches to design
- Technologies to re-manufacture and recycle electronic devices more efficiently
Electronics producers will play an important role in driving the transition. However, they can’t do this alone. Governments need to create the right policies and incentives, and international organizations and academics will need to contribute to developing the right frameworks.
Plan of action
To unite all key stakeholders needed for the transition from a linear to a circular economy for electronics, this initiative created a cross-sector global platform with the following ambitions:
- Convene key actors from the public and private sector to align on a New Vision for Electronics
- Align around two or more workstreams that will contribute to circular e-waste globally
- Create a platform for high level collaboration on building a circular economy for electronics globally
- Increase coordination between UN Agencies, Companies and governments on country and regional level projects on electronics and e-waste
The project resulted in the report “A New Circular Vision for Electronics” that was presented by PACE and the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the United Nations E-waste Coalition in 2019. It concluded with three vision elements:
- Significant increase in recyclability and recycled content of new products
- Significant extension of product lifetime
- Significant increase in collection rates and high-quality recycling