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Adapting to the Digital World: Addressing Electronic Waste and Sustainability

In today's rapidly changing digital world, a pressing question arises: Have we adapted quickly enough to keep pace with the relentless march of technology? While electronic devices have undeniably transformed our lives for the better, they have also given rise to a critical issue: e-waste.
"Electronics have become the fastest-growing waste globally." It's time to reconsider our approach to purchasing, using, and disposing of these devices.

Despite their value and repairability, many of these devices are discarded with inadequate waste management or are held onto for too long, eventually becoming dysfunctional. The problem lies not in the technology itself but in our approach to it. The key is to find individuals and organizations that see these challenges and are committed to finding innovative solutions.
Recently, I and researchers from Thailand's National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), had the opportunity to visit Inrego's factory, a Swedish IT circular company that aims to establish a global cycle for reusable IT products. Sebastian Holmström, Sustainability Manager at Inrego, guided us through the world of circular economy and shared some invaluable insights. #FeelGoodTech
Sebastian Holmström, Sustainability Manager of Inrego
Sebastian Holmström, Sustainability Manager of Inrego

One of the most eye-opening statistics he presented was the breakdown of emissions related to electronic devices: 79.8% of emissions occur during production. 13.2% are generated during usage. 6.8% come from transportation. 0.2% occur at the end of life. This data underscores the importance of prolonging the lifespan of existing devices rather than constantly producing new ones. It is a clear call to action for manufacturers and consumers alike to shift their focus towards sustainable practices. Additionally, it's not just the environmental impact; the social aspect has also been affected by the industry. A prime sad example is the use of child labor in cobalt mining for big tech in Congo. Therefore, Inrego aims to create change with 3 innovative processes:
IN-RE-GO core principles.
IN-RE-GO core principles.

⭐️In: "Buy in" This phase involves acquiring electronic products from organizations or international markets. It's about sourcing IT equipment that can be given a second life. ⭐️Re: "Recondition." It includes data erasure, testing, repairs, registration in a barcode system, and reporting back to customers. This step ensures that devices are in optimal condition for reuse. ⭐️Go: Ready to "Go." Inrego finally circulates these refurbished IT products back into the market, selling them where they are needed, both regionally and globally. For example in schools. This not only reduces e-waste but also promotes the responsible use of technology. While the solutions offered by Inrego are commendable, one of the most significant challenges in the global transition to a circular economy for electronics is behavioral change. Changing the way we think about electronic devices, from disposable commodities to valuable resources, is a fundamental shift that requires collective effort. Reflecting on the situation in Thailand, it is evident that e-waste management remains a critical issue. In 2021, Thailand generated a staggering 435,187 tons of e-waste, accounting for 65% of the total hazardous waste. Shockingly, only 20% of this e-waste was appropriately disposed of, while the remaining 80% found its way into landfills, was mixed with non-recyclable waste, or ended up in secondhand stores.
----- The road to a sustainable future in the digital world is one that we all must travel, and it begins with a change in our attitudes and behaviors toward electronics. If you don’t know how to start? Here are four key steps to achieve your climate goals through IT: 1️⃣Choose Circular IT: Whether for your company or personal use, consider renting or buying circular IT products such as phones, screens, or computers. Circular IT reduces carbon emissions by a substantial 80% compared to bran d-new devices. If you opt for new purchases, prioritize products that are cleanly produced, reusable, and repairable, and look for certifications like TCO. Always think about how you can extend the product's lifespan and reuse it. 2️⃣Prolong Product Lifespan: Embrace the circular economy principle of using your IT products for longer periods. Take good care of your existing devices as the most sustainable option is the one you already own. Can you get another year of use out of your device? Is it repairable, and can you replace its battery? Maintaining your device's condition also increases its resale value. 3️⃣Sell or Share: When you're finished with your IT equipment, make it available to others. Extend the life of your used devices by selling them to someone who can continue using them. At Inrego, for instance, 95% of products find a second life. Don't let your IT products sit unused in a drawer, as their value diminishes over time. Keep them in circulation to reduce the environmental impact associated with manufacturing new electronics. 4️⃣Recycle Responsibly: When a device reaches the end of its usable life, ensure it's recycled safely and appropriately. Recycling should be the last resort in the circular economy, so explore all other options for extending the product's lifespan before resorting to recycling.
. By embracing these steps, we can actively participate in the circular economy today. This marks the beginning of a long-term effort that contributes to the fight against climate change, aligns with the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, protects human rights, and fosters a circular IT industry.
Used Ipad and ready to be re-sale.
Used Ipad and ready to be re-sale.

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------------- Finally, we're glad that MTEC invited Inrego to join the seminar “Design for circular economy challenges” sharing the circular initiative with Thai audiences targeting industry, students, academia, and policy members. Hopefully, there will be a cross-pollination of innovative ideas for a sustainable society in Thailand.
Researchers from MTEC and the stars' employee of INREGO
Researchers from MTEC and the stars' employee of INREGO

For more information about Inrego and MTEC to find our about their efforts in promoting circular economy, please visit their website at

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  • Markus Lutteman

    39 w

    A great, informative and well-written review. Thanks. @SustainablePear!

    • john linus Tom

      39 w

      Great initiative

      • mercy nduta

        39 w

        Super initiative!

        • Johannes Luiga

          39 w

          Such a great initiative

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