October 23, 2023

Circular IT versus Refurbished

  • ESG
  • Hardware
  • Personal Computing
  • Refurbished

What IT can learn from fashion in circularity

Fashion marketplaces for pre-owned designer brands and vintage clothes like Vinted are booming. The burning platform is that we have enough clothes on this planet to dress six generations of the human race. Major influencers, such as the American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, have been prominent advocates of modern vintage clothing. Buying secondhand and recycling what we own is critical for a more sustainable future.

Like the fashion industry, IT is heading the wrong way without serious interventions. Data centres are estimated to consume about 3% of total carbon emissions worldwide. That’s approximately the same as the entire airline industry. With the growth of tech and the rise of AI, IT is heading for over 12% of the global carbon emissions in 2040. There is no time to lose.

In businesses, every three or four years, we get a new laptop. Around 1,200 kilos of mined metal-containing earth and almost 200,000 litres of water are needed to produce one shiny new laptop. That doesn’t add up: the lifespan of a well-designed notebook is at least six years. Expanding the economic life cycle and using refurbished devices makes perfect sense.

“Refurbished is for losers when there is no narrative.”



But no one wants a refurbished laptop. IT can learn from other industries in making sustainability fashionable. From a branding perspective, people associate secondhand and recycled differently than vintage, upcycled, and pre-circular. Let’s change the narrative and redesign the customer journey to address eco-consciousness. It should be fashionable to own a Circular electronic device.

While “circular” technically refers to a secondhand product, it relates emotionally to a well-taken care-of item. BMW’s rebranded its pre-owned car program with the tagline “Like New Again” to address eco-conscious consumers. In IT, we tend to push products and sell based on functionality. We forget to convince consumers to seek a product based on desire.

Refurbished is for losers when there is no narrative. Imagine you start your new job and, on the first day, you get a clunky refurbished computer delivered in an ugly black nylon laptop bag. Bad first impression! In the age of digital employee experience, you have to do better. Let’s “Gucci-up” the digital workspace with a slick circular notebook in an upcycled bag and a warm welcome at the Service Café.

Welcome to redesigning refurbished IT. When CEOs and CIOs show off their refurbished devices, we are on the right track.

Circular IT Expert

Circular IT Expert

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