Did you know the world is predicted to produce more than 50 million tons of e-waste this year? And according to the latest statisticsless than 20% of this is recycled properly, meaning huge amounts end up in landfills.
Gadgets play a major role in this. Just consider that 5.3 billion smartphones are expected to be discarded by 2022.
But here’s the good news: gadgets will become more sustainable in 2023, all thanks to the emerging trend of circularity.
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“In large markets like Europe, consumers are looking for more sustainable, sustainable products,” said Stanton Thomas, senior vice president, sustainability solutions at o9 solutionstold TNW.
More durable products are likely to lead to fewer sales over time because of “lower replacement rates.” This is something manufacturers should consider in their business models, as these kinds of economic trade-offs – Stanton explained – are expected to mark “the transition to a sustainable, circular economy.”
According to Matthew Cockerill – an innovation consultant – manufacturers are already starting to focus on making their tech products last longer. And that is for three reasons: pressure from interest groupschanges in customer behavior and recent legislation regarding the right to repair in Europe.
As Cockerill pointed out, this explains Collaboration between Samsung and Google with iFixit to supply spare parts, and Apple’s rollout of the Self-service repair shop for its products.
“Going forward, these forces will shape the architecture of our technology products and how they are sold, serviced and regenerated, while also changing our attitude towards some of our established technology products,” he told TNW.
This, he says, will turn some of “our established tech products” into “product classics,” which will retain their “validity” and “desirability” for up to ten years — rather than being thrown away or recycled prematurely.
The further we get into the next year, the more we’ll see this kind of scheme increase, with companies trying to design their devices to last as long as possible.
But besides durability and repair, there is another big trend that will make gadgets more durable in 2023.
The opportunity to redecorate
“Reselling gadgets to fixer-uppers extends the life of technology because they can then be professionally repaired and resold,” said Thibaud Hug de Larauze, CEO and co-founder of Back Market — a Paris-based marketplace for refurbished appliances — told TNW. This is because “recycling is not yet sophisticated enough” to salvage every part of a device.
In fact, consumer interest in refurbished devices is growing. A recent survey Keany found that 28% of over 5,000 consumers in Europe and North America would choose a high-quality refurbished product over a lower-quality, brand-new product. And the global market for refurbished electronics is predicted grow at an annual compound growth rate of 12.1% between 2022 and 2031.
But while startups like Back Market and Swap are among those currently leading the transition, major technology manufacturers are expected to follow suit.
Until now, a mindset focused on constant updates, new launches and making a profit has held back such companies, de Larauze explains. But this is changing.
“As the climate crisis continues, we are starting to see major players invest more in renovation as sustainability begins to become a cornerstone for success,” he noted.
Making gadgets more sustainable in 2023 with remanufacturing
Besides redecorating, Peter Bragg — canons EMEA Sustainability & Government Affairs Director — believes that remanufacturing is the “missing link” in circular economy practices.
While there is an upward trend in refurbished tech products, consumers are still hesitant due to optimal performance expectations and the simple feeling of wanting something “new and shiny,” he told TNW. And this is where remanufacturing comes into play.
Remanufacturing involves preserving as much of the old device as possible and rebuilding it to perform like a new product, Bragg explains. It is an improvement over refurbishing “through its focus on performance and extensive testing that ensures consumers receive what is essentially a new product, rather than simply extending the life of an existing product.”
In this way, it can also meet consumer demand for new, high-quality products, while reducing the impact on the environment.
Nevertheless, the responsibility for more sustainable gadgets also lies with the users. And the ways to help reduce e-waste are simple: consider second-hand products, invest in long-lasting products, and take good care of your device to make it last longer.
Imagine if we could do that by extending the life of our smartphones by a year Save Europe as much CO2 emissions as possible like taking two million cars off the road every year.
And hopefully we can make our gadgets more sustainable in 2023 with companies making more durable devices, the rise of refurbishing and a renewed focus on remanufacturing.