The terms recycling and reuse are often used as synonyms, it is incorrect, “recycle” refers to the process in which a raw material is used again to create something new. “Reuse” means use a product or its components it again for the same purpose or find another use for the item, What is the reuse of electronics?

The concept of circular economy can become very elastic. Its meaning can vary drastically depending on the interests of the person who defines, uses and implements it. For example, it is considered circular to burn waste for the generation of energy. If accepted, but will the burning of a product that could have been reused continue to be considered as circular? What is the Circular Economy of Electronics?

The entities federated to refurbish and resell used devices such as mobiles, laptops or desktops. This members also create open, local and autonomous reuse platforms that brings automation, traceability and auditability in all the steps in the life time of devices with the aim of make electronics affordable, durable and impact accountable. What is an Electronic Reuse Circuit?

What is the reuse of electronics?

The reuse of electronic devices such as desktops, laptops or mobile phones is applied to devices that have already been manufactured and are no longer in use (disposal) and will be recycled unless they are refurbished /reconditioned (repaired, upgraded) and used again or redistributed to other users.

We say a device or component is reusable if it has or may have use value for someone:

  • If the use value of the device is high enough, it means that there is somewhere a potential user for that device as it is, and only a basic refurbishing processes is required, such as erasing data or restoring the operating system (this is represented as citizen reuse loop in next figure).
  • If the use value is too low, its use value can be increased through several types of actions of refurbishment: repairing, replacing demaged components and updating/ugrade (this is represented as professional reuse loop in next figure).

The reuse process ends when after a few years the device or component reaches disposal state, which means its use value then, or through potential improvements, does not allow its reuse again. The cycle reach recycling to recover (reuse) raw materials and manufacture new components.

What is the Circular Economy of Electronics?

The circular economy is a new paradigm to change the current consumption model based on buy, use and throw away. Circular economy in electronics is, first, to preserve in use the products and components that have been already manufactured, and second, to recover raw materials when devices are no longer repairable and functional.

Circularity means making self-sufficient system that does not require inputs of raw materials and does not have losses. losses are waste that ends up in landfills where materials cannot be recovered.

In circular economy, products and materials are seen as assets, businesses are seen as its users, that should repair, upgrade and reuse their devices and materials to maintain them in use as much as possible.

We define the Circular Economy of electronics reuse as the result of performing all viable reuse processes until the use value of devices does not allow further reuse, and that at the end of any reused device is recycled.

Therefore, there are three principles that are key to achieving Circular Economy of electronics: Reduce, Reuse and Recycling. we should ensure at the time of recycling devices have low use value, so there is no premature recycling.

What is an Electronic Reuse Circuit?

In cities, federated members and city councils collaborate and coordinate in reuse circuits with great effect in creating inclusive jobs, starting or accelerating efficiency and scaling up of local exchange/market of second hand devices. City councils deliver IT retired equipment to local reuse centers that are circular economy impact accountable and collaborate between them to increase reuse and recycling.

There are two levels of circuits: the first level only includes reuse centers; at this level each actor has its own federated platform, looks for its equipment supply funds and establishes its collaboration agreements between other reuse centers and resellers. In the second level (collaborative), there is a zero waste entity that acts as an umbrella of the reuse centers. 

Collaborative Circuits establishes an agreement between reuse centers and resellers to manage, share and maintain the circularity of digital devices and seek collaboration rather than competition. The mission of a collaborative Circuit is to promote cooperation between entities in the reuse sector and the responsible, collaborative and circular use of digital devices.