New Vision for Electronics





Follow-up project 

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  


  1. New and innovative business models 
  2. Different approaches to design 
  3. 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: 


  1. Significant increase in recyclability and recycled content of new products 
  2. Significant extension of product lifetime 
  3. Significant increase in collection rates and high-quality recycling 




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New Vision for Electronics partner logo
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Global Battery Alliance


To ensure that the battery value chain is socially responsible, environmentally and economically sustainable and innovative.


  • By 2025, the battery market will reach $100 billion, primarily driven by the growing global stock of electric vehicles. However, this growth comes at a social and environmental toll

  • Raw materials needed for batteries are linked to social and environmental issues

  • No scaled systems are in place to enable re-use and recycling of over 11 million tons of the spent lithium-ion batteries forecast to be discarded by 2030

  • Innovation potential remains unexploited along the value chain, holding back greater supply chain transparency, business model and technological innovation


  • Support responsible and sustainable supply chains of key raw materials

  • Accelerate the transition towards a circular economy for batteries

  • Support collaboration to unlock innovation along the value chain


With respect to circular economy pillar in the Alliance:

  • The circular economy market and its potential evolution over time will be assessed in a scoping study (by early 2019)

  • Opportunities to lower repurposing and re-use costs for batteries will be assessed (e.g. standard-setting, establishing a framework to help address regulatory and liability challenges)

  • Barriers to recycling of electric vehicle battery will be quantified and a public-private pilot launched to test scalable solutions 

  • A portable electronics collection pilot is being scoped to test how materials can be recovered more efficiently 


Capital Equipment Coalition


Dramatically increase resource efficiency in the capital equipment sector by making circular business models the new normal.


  • Global use of capital equipment - ranging from photocopiers to MRI scanners to agricultural equipment (and much in between) - represents a significant proportion of all material use and current waste generation

  • We see huge opportunities for businesses to provide greater value to customers through innovative service models, smart upgrade paths, or product take-back and remanufacturing programs


  • Accelerate the implementation of circular practices in the business operations of capital equipment manufacturers by learning from each other and generate best practices


During Davos 2018, a group of forward-thinking business leaders committed to bold pledges that aim to preserve and recover the value from the capital equipment they produce. While pursuing their individual commitments, the group collectively develops an understanding of the most critical common challenges and good practices to overcome them. By openly sharing progress on their pledges and insights on replicable practices, the group aims to inspire other companies to define their own commitments and help drive the transformation of the capital equipment sector.


If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out to capitalequipment@circle-economy.com


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China Secondary Material Flows


Help the Chinese government reach its target or recycling 50% of e-waste by 2025 and sourcing 20% of materials for products from recycled sources.


  • Major electronic companies have set targets to use secondary materials in new products and other strategies to accelerate the circular economy

  • China is leading electronics manufacturing & has high targets for circular economy in electronics

  • Only $160m of value is recovered of a potential $1.3 billion worth of materials

  • Limited understanding of secondary material market scale, potential and operations in China

  • Informal secondary material processing in China is dominant


  • Create a platform for public private collaboration between electronics companies and the Chinese government 

  • Move towards piloting new strategies for circular economy in electronics

  • Undergo research to increase the base of knowledge on circular electronics in China


The project aims to support effective systems for the integration of recycled materials into electronic products and equipment along with other circular economy strategies. Through collaboration between multinational businesses, government and the domestic material recovery sector, work will seek to co-design pilot projects which test new regulatory approaches, technologies and partnerships. 


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Circular Economy Approaches for Electronics in Nigeria


Create one model for a circular electronics system to be applied in Nigeria and replicated across other countries in Africa.


  • In 2018, 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated and 

  • E-waste is one of the fastest-growing waste streams globally

  • Only 20% of e-waste is recycled through appropriate channels

  • E-waste contains high value materials, with an estimated value of $55 billion

  • Informal e-waste processing poses significant health and environmental hazards


  • To stimulate the development of a sustainable and circular management system of electronics products in Nigeria

  • Develop model for scaling to other African countries


This project aims to advance a systemic change in the way the value of electronics is captured in Africa. By convening public and private partners, it supports: (1) the recovery of valuable materials contained in electronics at the end of their use for their reuse in local production processes: (2) the safe handling of the hazardous components included in electronics waste; and (3) strengthen the enabling conditions for a self-sustaining system of extended producers responsibility legislation for the electronics sector in Nigeria.