Arrow Value Recovery in the Circular Economy

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Arrow Value Recovery in the Circular Economy

By Carol Baroudi, Arrow Electronics
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A circular economy depends on longer lasting goods. @ArrowGlobal contributes by upcycling technology. @carol_baroudi

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Carol Baroudi works for Arrow’s Value Recovery business, promoting sustainability awareness and action. Her particular focus is electronics at their end-of-life stage, and everything connected.

Monday, January 25, 2016 - 1:15pm

There’s lots of talk about the “circular economy” without a lot of explanation of why we call it circular. We get the idea that we’re closing a loop (a decidedly circular image) and that we’re bringing things back (full circle, as it were). But first it’s important to understand the departure from our current linear economy, which is decidedly one directional. The linear economy extracts raw materials and manufactures new goods with the intention that at the end of their useful life these goods will be discarded. Indeed, profits are frequently driven by supplanting usable goods with the new, improved, faster models that destine these still-useful items to premature obsolescence.

The world’s population is now more than 7.2 billion people (note the increase that occurs in the time it takes you to read this blog). Many of the materials that we use are not renewable – meaning that there’s only so much of them. Take copper, for example. Copper is in great demand in new construction. For these 7.2 billion people, new housing, new office space and new construction in general are needed, and this new construction puts a huge demand on the copper supply critical to wiring. With demand increasing and supplies diminishing, it’s easy to understand that the throw-it-away model is not sustainable.

The circular economy is predicated on the idea that the linear economy must give way to a better model. There’s simply not enough of many materials to support infinite, one-time use when materials are literally thrown away. And a by-product of this model is the creation of mounds of waste with no place to put it. Consumption has to get a whole lot smarter – and so must design. We need to shift the focus back to goods that are built to last and make our goods last longer.

These principles are the core of Arrow’s Value Recovery business. We strive to give IT assets a longer life by repairing and refurbishing them before finding them a new home. For assets past their viable second life, we harvest usable parts before sending recycling-ready commodities to specialized processors, returning everything possible to the manufacturing steam. We are an integral part of the circular economy.

Beyond our day-to-day business, we work with our long-standing partner Close the Gap on an ongoing project we call DigiTruck. The DigiTruck epitomizes the circular economy concept of upcycling – a process where waste materials or products, without being broken down, are used to create something of greater valueor environmental benefit. The DigiTruck is a refurbished cargo container, equipped with solar panels, insulation and refurbished Arrow Value Recovery computers, that can be used as a mobile classroom or clinic. Check out the DigiTruck at an orphanage in Tanzania.

Arrow Value Recovery’s Scott Venhaus and WorldLoop’s Barbara Toorens will be presenting on these very topics at the upcoming 15th International Electronics Recycling Congress IERC 2016 later this month in Salzburg, Austria. Drop me a line at if you’re planning to attend, and I’ll help you connect.


Carol Baroudi works for Arrow’s Value Recovery business promoting sustainability awareness and action. She is the lead author of Green IT For Dummies. Her particular focus is on electronics at the IT asset disposition stage, e-waste, and everything connected. Follow her on Twitter @carol_baroudi and connect with her on LinkedIn at

Keywords: Environment | Arrow Electronics | Carol Baroudi | Environment | IERC 2016 | Innovation & Technology | circular economy | upcycling