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Report urges tech firms to embrace circular economy

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As technology devices are increasingly becoming more carbon intensive, a new report is urging technology firms to embrace a circular economy business model and extend the life of mobile devices.

The report – A circular economy for smart devices – comes from Green Alliance. The paper suggests that by adopting more sustainable operations technology firms could boost their sales and cut their environmental impact.

Green Alliance specifically looked at mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, and found that the second-hand device market is “booming”. The market was found to be worth $3 billion (£1.94bn) a year in the US alone. Furthermore, the report adds that new sales are slowing and 8% of new smartphones are expected to partially use recycled materials by 2018.

As well as benefitting cost and resource pressure, recycling can reduce the carbon footprint of a firm. The study found that devices are becoming more carbon intensive, for example the carbon footprint of iPhones has quadrupled over the last five years. As governments increasingly impose regulation to limit emissions in a bid to prevent dangerous levels of climate change, companies could find they face additional pressures.

Dustin Benton, author of the report, said, “Smartphones, tablets and laptops are spreading the benefits of internet access across the globe. But their production is increasingly carbon intensive, and rapid upgrades mean too many good devices end up abandoned in cupboards and desk drawers, before ending up as e-waste. If companies can make reuse easier, that can boost sales and cut environmental impact.”

The report sets out a number of approaches companies can take to make their business models more sustainable. For example, it suggests that software companies can detect when a user upgrades to a new phone and purchase the device from the individual.  Between 28 and 125 million smartphones are in UK homes and could be made available for reuse by implementing this strategy.

Hardware companies could “redesign their devices to capture the value of used parts”, the paper also suggests. The parts of a two-year-old iPhone could be worth up to £170, almost a third of its original sale value, and a result companies could find it makes economic sense to pay workers in India to recover high value components, such as cameras or displays, from existing devices.

Photo: Yutaka Tsutano via Flick

Further reading:

EU plans to recycle 70% waste by 2030 to promote circular economy

Switching to a ‘circular’ economy will unlock crucial investment

MPs back circular economy and call for an end to the ‘throwaway society’

UK losing £1.7 billion from reusable waste going to landfill – report

EU Green Week eyes a transition away from ‘throwaway culture’

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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