The circular economy aims to avoid wasting precious resources by recycling, reusing, and repurposing materials.

Widely witnessed by most people as part of regular rubbish collections and trips to recycling sites, the circular economy has also become a feature of life when upgrading and replacing technology. This can range from the managed disposal of computers, handsets, set-top boxes, and routers.

Many service providers offer free return postage for legacy equipment or even discounts to encourage customers to move to the next generation of kit. In this scenario, recycling can become a tool for customer retention and acquisition, as well as adding to overall brand value.

This phenomenon is not limited to the consumer segment. With the tech sector already a sustainability leader (despite the heavy demands it places on resources from rare metals to electricity and water) the circular economy also plays an important part when it comes to the B2B market. This reflects the importance of ESG as a whole to tech companies, whether they be equipment manufacturers, software, data centers, or communications service providers.

Examples of the circular economy in telco

Many examples of this trend exist, but the following represent a few examples amongst European B2B telco service providers:

  • Deutsche Telekom offers Device-as-a-Service for business mobile phones and tablets, and its partnership with Teqcycle has seen over 80,000 devices returned for reselling or recycling of raw materials.
  • Orange Business recently launched its Circular Mobility offer in France as part of its ‘Re’ (Recyclage, Reconditionné, Reprise) program, which provides lifecycle management of equipment, connectivity and services, including a carbon assessment of enterprises’ mobile fleets.
  • Vodafone’s Great British Tech Appeal collects enterprises’ used phones and tablets for free, then donates or recycles them, also helping to address the ‘digital divide.’

Robert Pritchard, GlobalData Principal Analyst in Enterprise Network Services, notes that: “Tech companies are very cognisant of their responsibility to the planet and have made great efforts to put in place processes to help minimise their overall environmental impact and find new uses for legacy technology. Beyond the sustainability benefits, circular economy equipment is often used to address the ‘digital divide’ both in domestic markets and across emerging economies.”

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By GlobalData