Technology sustainability efforts are going to need a heavy dose of as-a-service models to truly take root.
Dell Technologies has outlined a bevy of efforts to create products with circular design built from recycled and reused materials and parts. By 2030, Dell is aiming to reuse or recycle an equivalent product for each one a customer buys. The company also pledged that 100% of its packaging and more than half of its product content will be made from recycled or renewable material.
Other technology players including HP, HPE and Apple to just name a few have similar goals and for good reason: Less than 20% of e-waste in 2019 was recycled properly, according to the United Nations.
On the product front, Dell's circular supply chain efforts include:
- Selecting recycled or renewable materials and saving energy and water.
- Modular components that can be used in multiple ways with standard tools.
- Reduced use of pains.
- Clear labeling for recyclers as well as documentation for disassembly.
- Prioritizing renewable materials.
All of that sounds interesting, but technology giants are going to have to take the recycling efforts out of customers' hands. Dell Technologies has noted that its Project Apex as-a-service efforts will enable it to more easily take back technology to be refurbished or recycled.
- Microsoft is opening this 'advanced and sustainable' datacenter region next year
- Corporate climate action tech heats up
- Schneider Electric adds robo-advisor to climate change, sustainability services
- A long-term battle: The tech industry's role in combatting climate change
Indeed, desktops-as-a-service and models being rolled out by HPE will make it easier to reclaim gear. Enterprise technology systems will increasingly be returned and upgraded by vendors under as-a-service models.
The other efforts for packaging and materials will matter, but the circular supply chain is going to require more vendor control. The same vendors that manufacture your tech gear are going to need to reclaim and recycle it. The best model for those sustainability efforts are going to include a heavy dose of hardware-as-a-service.