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As the global market for electrical and electronic equipment continues to grow, E-waste has become one of the most critical waste challenges facing society. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development states that e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world – estimated at 50 million tons annually.

E-waste holds the potential to be used as a valuable resource, but only if we successfully step away from the current take-make-waste economic model and adopt circular practices. Circular practices will reduce reliance on finite raw materials, increase carbon reduction and deliver significant cost benefits.

Our client

A leading American tech giant (a manufacturer of software and hardware) recognizes the potential of circularity and has set out, together with KPMG, to address the electronic waste they generate. By assessing the level of circularity for a specific group of devices including the packaging of these devices, the company now has the right insights to reduce e-waste.

Our joint effort

Together with our client we applied the Circular Transition Indicators Framework to start measuring for circularity. The CTI Framework was developed by the WBCSD, supported by KPMG in collaboration with the world’s leading companies. The Circular Transition Indicators Framework helps to answer the client’s key questions like:

  • How circular are our devices and packaging?
  • How do we increase the level of circularity of our devices?
  • How do we set targets to measure progress and what high impact actions are needed?
  • And how do we monitor progress?

The CTI results provided ranked opportunities to increase the circular inflows and outflows for the devices. Also, with the application of the CTI framework we identified factors where improvement can be made in the future and we provided our client with a clear baseline for future target setting.

The most impactful opportunities to improve circularity of our clients devices turned out to be:

  • Elevate recycled content of Aluminum to 50% increases the average circularity score by 3-4%
  • Increase the take-back of devices after use increases the average circularity score by 2-3%
  • Resins used in components

A connection between the transition to a circular economy and carbon reduction has been made by researching which carbon label could be best selected, or developed for our client’s devices. We provided an outside-in view analysis on peers and competitors already using carbon labels in combination with market research on consumer preferences, and worldwide regulatory developments.

Throughout the process, we guided the client from beginning to end on this journey: from setting the scope and indicators, to collecting data and calculating, all the way to analyzing the results, prioritizing opportunities and plan/act on the opportunities as identified.

Business benefits for our client

Applying The CTI framework provided our client with the opportunity to learn about circular economy and its opportunities for business in a practical way with concrete business benefits: reducing material, reducing environmental impact and reducing costs.

Next, our client changed the way in which product design is approached (for the specific devices in scope of this project) to design for recyclability and repair. Going forward, product recovery will also be approached differently.

This added to our client’s License to Operate and future business resilience as together we also took into account future regulatory changes, customer needs, opinions on (secondary) material use, repairability and end–of–life treatment.

Based on the final results for the products  in scope, we supported our client’s thinking towards a 2030 roadmap to further improve product circularity feeding into our client’s overall sustainability ambition for their business at large. 

Figuring out progress

We help organizations with the themes that society values most. Like circular economy. So real progress takes shape. Knowing how we can bring your organization further? Please don’t hesitate contacting us. 

Arnoud Walrecht

Director Sustainability | Global Circular Economy Lead
KPMG in the Netherlands
+31 (020) 656 8705



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