UK Company Aims to Reduce E-Waste, Looks Toward Closed-Loop Future for Electronics Industry

BusinessGreen reports that UK startup WEEE Systems has ambitious plans for addressing the e-waste problem and moving the electronics industry toward a closed-loop system. It plans to involve at least one manufacturer in developing a prototype plant that ultimately would see manufacturers taking responsibility for the full life-cycle of their products by helping companies reuse and recycle more, and more efficiently.

BusinessGreen quotes Bob Clarke, WEEE Systems chief executive, who explains the basic idea behind the company:

"The e-waste industry is bizarre in that firms currently pay you less than the old kit is worth to take it away and recycle it, but then if anything goes wrong and it does end up in an illegal scrap yard in the developing world you are the one that gets in trouble. We want to work with a manufacturer where they agree to give us 50,000 old TVs; for example, we'll reuse or recycle them as appropriate and provide our partner with the resulting reusable parts and materials."

The company is not to be confused with the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive in Europe, which introduced regulations for the electronics industry several years ago.

WEEE Systems says it's trying to help the industry look beyond the minimum legal requirements:

WEEE Systems believes that leading businesses will want to look beyond legislative compliance and embrace changes today in order to realise the tangible benefits available - including releasing the real estate tied up storing surplus equipment, protecting brand value and meeting corporate social responsibility objectives.

With raw material prices increasing, there is a growing demand for the value that can be obtained from re-used and recycled materials, further incentivising progressive businesses to take advantage of the material transformation opportunities available.

The BusinessGreen story says the company recently launched a new software package and service to do just that:

Dubbed Cosvcon – an amalgam of cost versus contribution – the new software and service package audits a corporation's IT infrastructure, recording information on a wide range of metrics, including the equipment's age, energy use, utilisation and carbon footprint.

The company then provides clients with regular updates on the status of their infrastructure and identifies the optimum time to retire old servers, PCs, phones and other equipment.

"The aim is to help the client realise the maximum transformative value of their IT, where we can say, ‘At this point the asset is perfect for the secondary market, but if you leave it for a year it will be good for the recycling market'," Clarke explained.

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