Circularity First is a leading IT solutions provider focused on promoting sustainable practices and supporting businesses in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. Founded by Anthony Levy, the company has been working tirelessly for more than 12 years to help businesses leverage the latest technological advancements in an environmentally-friendly way.
With an MBA from the Instituto de Empresa Madrid, Anthony has extensive experience in the IT industry and uses his expertise to lead Circularity First Group in its mission to promote sustainable practices within the sector. Through innovative solutions and strategic partnerships, the company helps businesses achieve their sustainability goals.
The role of technology here in achieving sustainability goals cannot be understated. Increasingly, businesses are recognizing the need to adopt circular practices in order to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Circularity First has been at the forefront of this movement and continues to find new ways to support its clients in their efforts to create a more sustainable future. Whether it's reducing their energy consumption or working to reduce waste and increase recycling rates, Circularity First is helping businesses make a difference.
In this article, we explore the environmental impacts of the tech industry and discuss how Circularity First is leading the way forward.
The Environmental Impacts of The Tech Industry
The tech industry is one of the world's fastest-growing sectors, and it plays a critical role in driving innovation and economic growth. However, along with these benefits come negative environmental impacts. Impacts that are having a devastating effect on our planet and its ability to sustain life.
The Carbon Footprint of The Tech Industry
Just think about how much of your life is dependent on technology these days - from ordering food and shopping online, to streaming music and videos, to communicating with friends and family across the globe.
But all of this tech comes at a cost - both to the environment and to our wallets. Companies like Amazon are heavily reliant on fuel-burning planes and trucks to deliver billions of items to their customers, resulting in massive carbon emissions.
Meanwhile, data centers that process all of our online activity require huge amounts of energy - with some estimating that they will consume a whopping 8% of global electricity by 2030. In recent years, we've seen a huge surge in these data centers, particularly in Ireland, which has become known as the "data capital" of Europe. With more than 50 data centers already operating there, and dozens more under construction or with planning permission, it's clear that this trend isn't going away anytime soon.
But what many people don't realize is how much energy these data centers require - often consuming up to 2% of global electricity and contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. And as artificial intelligence continues to grow in popularity and become more integrated into our daily lives, researchers are sounding the alarm on its growing data costs - with some estimates suggesting that a single deep learning model can emit hundreds of tonnes of CO2, equivalent to five times the lifetime emissions of an average car.
The Ewaste Involved in The Tech Industry
Just recently, iPhone 14 ought to be the next best thing, hit stores with a bang. Trouble is, once you're done fawning over its sleek design and ground-breaking features, you'll have to find a way to dispose of your previous model. (well, at least before the next upgrade hits).
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to eWaste. In fact, we generate an incredible 50 million tons of eWaste every year – and that number is only growing as technology consumption continues to skyrocket!
eWaste, or electronic waste, is the term used to describe old, broken, or obsolete technology that no longer functions properly. This can include anything from small electronics like microwaves and shavers to large appliances like refrigerators and washing machines.
But what makes eWaste such a big problem? Well, for one thing, many of the elements that make up modern high-tech devices are toxic by nature. When eWaste ends up in landfills or incinerators, these toxic chemicals seep into groundwater supplies and contaminate our air – putting local communities at risk of serious health issues.
Unfortunately, our current approach to waste management doesn’t take into account the potential environmental damage caused by throwing away electronics without a second thought.
The Mining For Minerals & Resources: Impact on Communities
E-waste is not just a problem of toxic chemicals and runaway landfills. The mining for the metals and minerals required to create our growing stockpile of electronics also has significant implications for communities around the world.
Concerns about resource extraction have long been part of environmental activism. It raises serious human rights issues as well as environmental concerns, with corporations often exploiting workers and communities in developing countries for their own benefit.
From gold mines in Africa to lithium mines in South America, many extraction sites are located near vulnerable populations who often receive few benefits from the industry that operates near them. And extractive processes such as strip mining can permanently destroy local ecosystems, causing lasting damage to wildlife and plant life that depend on those spaces.
What Can Be Done to Resolve This Problem?
Well, Circularity First's approach to these challenges is to incorporate circular principles into business and government decision-making. This means prioritizing reuse, repair, and recycling as part of the product lifecycle, rather than treating e-waste as waste. How? read on.
But let's first understand what is circularity and how it can be used in the tech industry.
What is Circularity?
Circularity refers to a set of strategies and practices aimed at reducing the negative environmental impacts associated with the consumption, use, and disposal of consumer goods.
At its core, circularity involves creating systems that are designed to be regenerative and sustainable over time. This can be accomplished in many different ways, including through recycling programs, remanufacturing processes, and other efforts to prolong the useful life of products.
How Can a Circular Approach Be Best Used Within The Tech Industry?
As we continue to build out our infrastructure and generate new technologies at a rapid pace, there is an urgent need for more thoughtful approaches to resource use and disposal.
One potential strategy for addressing these issues is through circularity: using design innovation, recycling programs, and other practices that focus on prolonging the useful life of products over time.
This can be accomplished through product redesign, material selection, and other efforts to improve product performance while decreasing resource consumption. It could also involve fostering collaboration among different stakeholders throughout the supply chain in order to ensure that all components are being disposed of sustainably after their initial use.
Another key strategy is to consider product leasing models and other forms of "product as a service," where consumers no longer purchase their items outright but instead pay for usage over time. This can help reduce waste by reducing consumer reliance on buying new items, while also allowing companies to benefit from the rapidly evolving technology landscape in a more sustainable way.
Ultimately, these and other strategies will be critical as we seek to tackle the environmental challenges facing the tech industry today and ensure that our actions are not at odds with our long-term sustainability goals.
What Are Some of The Challenges Associated With Implementing Circular Practices in The Tech Industry?
One of the main challenges when it comes to implementing circular practices in the tech industry is overcoming resistance from traditional manufacturing and design models.
Many established companies are heavily invested in current production methods that rely on wasteful extraction and disposal processes, and they may be reluctant to change those systems or adopt new approaches.
In addition, many aspects of product design, particularly for electronics, have historically focused on maximizing performance rather than minimizing waste and resource use. As a result, these attitudes can create obstacles to adopting more circular practices within the tech industry.
How Circularity First is Making a Difference?
Successfully developing and delivering innovative services that are 100% eco-friendly, Circularity First has been able to help businesses to reduce carbon footprints, lower their impact on the environment and avoid unnecessary waste.
One such example is their work with the Ministry of Defense. They helped the MOD meet their challenges of increasing capacity across data centers and meeting tight deadlines. Through their expertise in Cisco technology and the circular economy, they delivered a resilient end-to-end solution that saved the organization over £15m and prevented eWaste from going to landfill.
Read the full case study, here.
In addition to this, Circularity First has helped many other leading organizations transition and embrace circular principles.
They have aided in the development of several eco-conscious projects and worked closely with industry leaders to help them fulfil their green business objectives. Their work encompasses all aspects of circularity– from supply chain management and product design to manufacturing, logistics, and service delivery.
How Do They Do It?
Their approach to circularity is based on the 5Rs of reducing, reusing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, and recycling along with product life extension.
- Reduce: By reviewing what data is needed, sharing, and deleting or archiving it, you can reduce your environmental footprint.
- Reuse: Technology that is no longer needed by one party can be redeployed in other sectors to extend its useful life.
- Refurbish: Through refurbishing and rebuilding with reused or new parts, used hardware can be returned to its original condition and functionality.
- Remanufacture: By completely deconstructing, testing, and rebuilding hardware with new parts, you can create remanufactured technology that looks and works like new.
- Recycle: While recycling involves repurposing some materials from used technology, it results in the loss of most of the energy and carbon embedded in creating those materials. Recycling is not as sustainable as other approaches to circularity.
- Longevity: ensuring that technology is used for longer and that it is repaired, maintained, and upgraded as needed.
The Future of Tech: Circularity First Solutions
Sustainable. Resilient. Circular.
Circularity First innovative solutions help organizations of all sizes make the transition to a more sustainable approach to tech, reducing their impact on the environment while also lowering costs and improving efficiency. They address 3 main global challenges that many IT organizations face today:
- CO2 Emissions:
IT plays a significant role in the carbon footprint of many organizations, accounting for up to 20% of their total footprint. Circularity First helps clients reduce their CO2 emissions by identifying and utilizing existing IT resources more effectively.
- Resource Scarcity:
There is an urgent need to address resource scarcity and protect these vital resources for future generations. Their approach is based on sustainable supply chains, where they use our resources as efficiently as possible, and plan for recovery at the end of their lifecycle.
Rather than simply throwing eWaste away, Circularity First helps businesses sell their used IT equipment to other organizations looking for the latest technology. By keeping these materials out of landfills and in use instead, they’re helping to protect our planet and preserve dwindling resources for future generations.
If you're interested in learning more about Circularity First and its approach to circularity in the tech industry, be sure to check out this week's podcast with them. You'll hear from CEO and Co-founder, Anthony Levy, and learn how they're revolutionizing the way we think about tech and sustainability.