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Tech as an enabler for the circular economy

There’s an enormous reliance on big tech to help fix the climate crisis challenge. Albeit a huge challenge, the capabilities and efficiencies achieved by big data and AI are incredible.


The technology sector is often ahead of the game, being the north star, providing innovative technologies capable of transforming business models, the supply chain and underpinning the transition to a service-based and sharing economy.


Today, technology sits right at the heart of the circular economy.


Technology has incalculable potential to enable humanity to be the best stewards of the biosphere and usher into existence a truly inclusive, circular economy faster, more effectively. - GreenBiz


Digital technology, in its many forms, has the potential to map, organise, and optimise our global economy. Digital transformation is the perfect opportunity for environmental-first design.


From design to new business models, here are some examples of consumer tech applying circular principles of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle:


Pentatonic - transforming products into other products

This design and technology company operates in a fully circular way designing and creating beautiful consumer products and goods that enable a more sustainable, responsible way of daily life, and which can be recycled over and over again. With clients such as Uniqlo, New Era, Starbucks, Burger King, and more; Pentatonic helped them transform previous waste streams into new products like elegant glassware, upcycled furniture, and luxury consumer accessories. Get inspired by their array of case studies.


Phillips - the light as a service model

Partnering with Turntoo, Phillips released a collaborative project where light was purchased as a service. The result was a bespoke ‘pay-per-lux’ intelligent lighting system. A prime example of an innovative business model where the brand retains control over the items they produce that enables better maintenance, reconditioning and recovery and the user keeps energy consumption to a minimum. More on how Philips does circular lighting here.


HYLA Mobile -tackling e-waste

HYLA Mobile exists to tackle e-waste and provide industry-leading technology, analytics and logistics solutions to help the mobile ecosystem maximize its sustainability efforts.

Smartphones and tablets have changed the very way we live, work, and exist. Unfortunately, this also meant that supply has overtaken demand, resulting in landfills being full of out-of-service gadgets. To fix that, HYLA recycles and reuses the old devices or their components. According to some estimates, the company repurposed 53M smartphones/devices, generating $6B in unrealized value for customers and redirecting 6,500 tons of e-waste.


How does it apply to events?

We’ve learnt a lot from virtual events in the past year, but have we learnt enough?


There are incredible innovations on a daily basis happening in tech, and so many can be applied in events to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions or food waste.


Here are some thought starters on how tech can help events become more circular and sustainable:

  • Energy use can be monitored and optimised in real time through the use of smart tech

  • Automatic lighting or AI controlled heating could be deployed when spaces are not in use

  • AI can help reduce food waste through portion control

  • Site visits set in VR can save on travel emissions

  • Virtual twins technology will help design, test and model products in the digital space and also improve operations and efficiencies

What else have you seen? What other pieces of tech can help events become more sustainable?


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