New Report Examines Circular Transformation of Electronic Devices

A new report from the Reimagining Supply Chains Initiative – a collaborative research effort between the Department of Operations Management and NORDAKADEMIE and NORDAKADEMIE Foundation – provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges, opportunities, and potential trade-offs for circular smartphones and computers.


Man repairs smartphone

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash.

While e-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world, only 17.4% of it is properly collected, documented, and recycled. In practice, this means that a huge amount of hazardous waste is exported (sometimes illegally) to countries in the Global South, endangering both human health and the environment.

However, e-waste is only one of many issues arising from our current make–take–dispose paradigm for electronic supply chains. Based on a literature review and data collected from nine industry experts, the report, entitled Circular Supply Chain Transformation: Challenges, Opportunities, and Trade-Offs for Circular Smartphones and Computers, highlights the importance, opportunities, and potential trade-offs associated with circular supply chains for electronic devices in a way that makes it easier for decision makers to understand and navigate the circular transformation.

Importantly, the report emphasizes that everyone – from manufacturers and purchasers to distributors, recyclers, and policy makers – has a role to play in the transformation toward circular devices, and that it is possible to implement many of these circular initiatives in a way that reduces the environmental, social, and economic costs of electronic devices.

By providing concrete examples and societal reflections, the report serves as a foundation and guide for decision makers who want to reduce the negative impact of their electronic devices.

“The report highlights the importance and opportunities of a circular transformation for circular devices but ends with a note of caution. This is not to discourage decision makers from embarking on a circular journey. On the contrary, by placing the circular economy in a larger sustainability context, the report provides the readers with a toolbox that will enable them to make better-informed decisions.”- Co-editor, Associate Professor Andreas Wieland.

You can download and read the full report here:  Circular Supply Chain Transformation - Challenges, Opportunities, and Trade-Offs for Circular Smartphones and Computers.pdf

The report, Circular Supply Chain Transformation: Challenges, Opportunities, and Trade-Offs for Circular Smartphones and Computes, is written by Katinka Bjørndal Thomsen and Anika Schulte (Andreas Wieland, Frank Fürstenberg, Philip Beske-Janssen, eds.) as part of the Reimagining Supply Chains Initiative.

The page was last edited by: Department of Operations Management // 01/25/2024