Towards a Circular Economy to #MoveTheDate

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Towards a Circular Economy to #MoveTheDate

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Friday, August 18, 2017 - 8:05am

Across the globe, about 50 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are tied to materials. The United Nations, for example, estimates that in 41.8 million tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste there is 16 Mt of iron, 1.9 Mt of copper and 300 tonnes of gold, plus other precious metals such as palladium, with a combined value of $52 billion. Therefore, the transition to a circular economy not only contributes to climate action, but can have significant economic benefits as well.

Schneider Electric is leading discussions between both manufacturers and customers to change the way we make and use products to a circular approach – based on repairing, reusing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, and recycling products – rather than the traditional and unsustainable linear “take, make, and dispose” approach. We also described some of the ways we are supporting that paradigm shift.

Although some of our circular economy supporting practices are based on newer initiatives, such as our UPS refurbishment center and our SF-6 recycling services, others have been in place for many years. In particular, our Industrial Repair Services business unit in Greensboro, North Carolina, today plays an even more important and valuable role that it did when it began as Electrical South in the 1970s.

Like anything else worthwhile, however, repairing industrial electronic equipment is not easy. In additional to the technical challenges inherent in electronics of any type, even “standard” types of equipment have many variations. In some cases, manufacturers have made changes to their products over the years. There also are many product lines still in service for which the original manufacturer no longer provides support or no longer exists. Such hurdles can be daunting to even the strongest supporters of a circular economy.

We consider ourselves fortunate to have an exceptionally deep archive of schematics and other technical information dating back 40 years or more for many different brands of equipment. This enables us to perform repairs on equipment and components that have long since been “obsoleted” by the original manufacturer but may still be performing mission-critical functions. Once a good idea simply because it might have been less expensive, opting to repair industrial electronic equipment has gained well-deserved additional credibility as more people and businesses begin to think in terms of a circular economy. We at Schneider Electric believe that electing to repair equipment is frequently a good and responsible choice, click here to learn more about our industrial repair services.

Learn more about Earth Overshoot Day here.

See our 2016-2017 Sustainability Report here.

Download our 2016-2017 Sustainability Report here.

Keywords: Supply Chain & the Circular Economy | Corporate Social Responsibility | Earth Overshoot Day | Energy | Innovation & Technology | Move the DAte | Schneider Electric | Shared Value | Sustainability