Pioneering the trail to circularity

The “round economic system”, an idea that’s turning into increasingly outstanding within the present Zeitgeist. Briefly, it’s an financial system aimed toward eliminating waste and facilitating the continuous use of assets. A world through which we’re genuinely round is one the place supplies can be utilized, recycled and reused to their fullest extent.

There’s a catch, after all: for many supplies, it’s fairly unlikely that recycling alone will have the ability to meet humanity’s rising calls for for them, a minimum of within the coming many years. As well as, recycling additionally causes waste and we lose a notable quantity of supplies in the course of the course of. Whereas globally we’re recycling extra, there are limitations.

On the journey in direction of a round economic system, it’s essential to evaluate alternatives and acknowledge the restrictions. Growing a mutual understanding of the wants and necessities will in the end drive the preservation of assets and promote longevity. That is the place the KPN-led initiative of the product circularity report is available in.

Enter the product circularity report

KPN recognized the necessity for frontrunners of round initiatives within the telecom sector. As one of many first telecom operators to actively work on circularity with its suppliers, KPN sought a solution to measure and visualise the circularity of merchandise. That is when KPN determined to develop into a launching buyer of Round IQ and KPMG’s software-based method to gather and analyze product knowledge, to supply insights into the extent of circularity of a product, and provides suggestions for additional enchancment.

To additional refine the requirements and dial within the reporting, Fairphone collaborated on the report. It took a number of multi-layered, essential discussions to reveal the complexity of this joint job.

So what do we have now to point out for it?
The Product Circularity Report of the Fairphone 3 >>

Classes discovered

Now that the Fairphone 3 has been analyzed and the insights mentioned, the events concerned are trying again to guage the teachings discovered and share insights from diving into product circularity.


Thea Kleinmagd, Fairphone

“Since Fairphone has been the primary smartphone producer collaborating in KPN’s challenge, we skilled that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits all method in circularity reporting. Each product group has its personal huge sustainability challenges and thus alternatives to yield the very best optimistic affect. The instrument reconfirmed longevity as probably the most impactful intervention for smartphones and highlights the dilemmas between truthful mined materials benefitting folks, versus round supplies benefitting the planet.”


Edwin Rutten, KPN

“Within the electronics trade, there’s nonetheless a solution to go relating to transparency within the provide chain. Having product knowledge obtainable on the fabric stage shouldn’t be but an trade commonplace. Corporations like Fairphone present good apply, however the problem is to scale up and standardise. Subsequent to this, we have to perceive and present the impacts of round design in the course of the lifecycle of a product. This permits for widespread understanding and dealing collectively on systemic enchancment. The cooperation with Fairphone, KPMG and Round IQ is an efficient instance of this.”


Mart Beune, KPMG & Rolf Gelpke, Round IQ

“A cell phone is a really complicated system with a number of completely different supplies wanted for manufacturing, with a number of completely different supplies wanted for manufacturing. Discovering the suitable steadiness between what elements to give attention to brings dilemmas. Challenges that, to us, Fairphone has very nicely noticed and makes aware choices to step-by-step enhance daily. Presenting and speaking these trade-offs in a transparent and comprehensible approach is a key problem since organizations and customers are extra demanding on sustainability and transparency daily. These insights are sometimes hidden in complicated LCA research, however can now be visualized extra successfully.”

Insights and key findings

There are quite a few insights and findings to share, which can be found within the detailed report >> (hyperlink). We need to spotlight a couple of takeaways that have been the direct results of the open collaboration and discussions.

The newly discovered insights and their presentation sparked an in-depth dialogue between KPN and Fairphone, permitting each events to grasp higher the place their sustainability agenda’s meet. An instance of that is the trade-off between specializing in recycled content material or truthful mined (e.g. Fairtrade gold). The recycled provide of assorted supplies will solely have the ability to cowl a minor share of the whole demand within the coming many years, simply because there’s not sufficient which could possibly be recycled. Though fostering the usage of secondary assets is necessary, bettering the environmental and social situations of mining for quite a few supplies is due to this fact a minimum of as essential. Commerce-offs like these are inevitable in a round economic system however usually not clear. The info-backed insights helped steer the dialog to grasp Fairphones efforts higher and the reasoning behind them.

 Visible tailored from KPMG’s and Round IQ’s Product Circularity Enchancment Report.

Fairphone strives to advertise recycling since each digital product will develop into e-waste sooner or later. Nonetheless, understanding the bounds of recycling has strengthened their conviction that repairability and lifelong extension are simply as necessary to maintain the worth of the supplies utilized in our merchandise at their highest stage for so long as potential. This method shouldn’t be but mainstream, nevertheless it’s beginning to achieve recognition. The reason being easy: if we use our telephones twice as lengthy, we solely want to supply half the quantity of telephones, decreasing the trade’s environmental and materials footprint. By specializing in easy DIY repairs – replaceable components, modular upgrades, and prolonged software program help – Fairphone makes it simpler to make use of telephones far past the common trade lifespan.

Within the case of the Fairphone 3, we’re speaking about a minimum of 5 years, which is about double the common market lifespan of smartphones. That is enabled by the modular structure of the cellphone, permitting for module upgrades and straightforward restore. Thereby, the affect of e.g. a battery alternative can simply be compensated by an extended lifespan (see graph). The product system entails a cellphone and module take-back program which supplies reusable or refurbished components for repairs, items to the secondary market or enter for recycling.

 Visible tailored from KPMG’s and Round IQ’s Product Circularity Enchancment Report.

The place will we go from right here?

Findings of the investigations into the Fairphone 3 have discovered their approach into strengthening its successor, the Fairphone 4. To underline Fairphone’s dedication to longevity, the newly launched mannequin comes with a 5-years producer guarantee – an trade first. Total, the recyclability of the cellphone has climbed as much as 75% and Fairphone 4 accommodates 60% recycled plastics as in comparison with 40% within the prior mannequin. Moreover, the scope of the main focus supplies has been prolonged from 8 to 14 supplies, e.g. resulting in sourcing of ASI licensed aluminium.

“It’s encouraging to see that subjects like these begin to take root within the wider electronics trade. Actual change shall be pushed by a joint effort from small gamers like Fairphone, main trade gamers like KPN, policymakers and the buyer.” – Thea Kleinmagd, Fairphone

“We’re very smitten by our product circularity program and are increasing this with extra merchandise which can be being assessed. On the one hand, we want in-depth insights and provider dialogue to establish focus areas and dilemmas. Then again, we’re looking for methods to scale as much as deal with our full operations and provide base. This can proceed to drive change within the telecom sector and obtain our round targets.” – Edwin Rutten, KPN


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