5 minutes with Steve Haskew, Circular Computing

Steve Haskew is Head of Sustainability and Social Change at Circular Computing. With a rich experience of over 20 years, he has dedicated his career to partnering with sustainable companies, championing best practices and actively addressing unsustainable practices in the technology sector.

Recognizing that approximately 31% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the production of goods, Steve strongly believes that the future of achieving a decarbonised planet hinges on adopting circular economy principles. Within the technology sector, he says the Circular Computing regeneration model represents the top of the hierarchy in promoting circular economy practices. For Steve, this paradigm shift goes beyond simply buying carbon credits to appease a “carbon conscience”; it represents a fundamental change in the way products are used and reused.

We caught up with Steve to learn more about Circular Computing.

Hi Steve, tell us what brought you to your current path?

I am Generation Boomer and have seen changes in the digital/tech space advance at an incredible pace. I saw a man land on the moon in 1969. I was one of 4 billion people on earth in 1972 – this number has doubled in 50 years! I remember life without the Internet, Google, social media and cellphones. I remember seeing my first Apple computer.

I did O’levels – GCSEs weren’t invented, and later went on to do an MBA from the Open University (OU). It was while I was studying with UO that a part of my study group was a top Pharma Co and top 3 consulting firm. Their challenge was that the desktop PC (which was wired to a mainframe computer in the basement) was leaving legacy systems and green screens redundant. Floors and floors of expensive real estate were used to store what they considered “waste”.

I focused my MBA on solving this problem and designed what is now ITAD (IT Asset Disposal) sector. Green screens for example contained cadmium (being carcinogen) and we needed innovation to separate the glass from the carcinogen, the glass could be reused into fiberglass and the carcinogen destroyed. This was in the early 1990s and is an example of designing a circular economy business.

The following years saw the adoption of the PC with sales from 71 million units in 1996 to 270 million in 10 years. Everything changed. We have become monstrous consumers of technology and the idea of ​​”take, produce, use and dispose” has never been questioned. Resource conservation is now a central theme in central governments around the world and where politics are not allowed to muddy the waters, it is something we need to focus on to ensure systems are in place for future generations. The alternative is to have nothing.

What does your role as Head of Sustainability include?

As Director of Sustainability and Client Engagement at Circular Computing, my role includes advising on sustainability strategies, ensuring our processes are rooted in the circular economy and that we are a significantly carbon positive company, as well as helping us capitalize on the opportunity to strategically promote sustainability, the circular economy and social values. I focus on ensuring that our upstream and downstream supply chains are aligned with us.

My job is essentially to future-proof our industry by focusing on reducing the impact ICT has on the environment. In addition to my immediate role, I am a keynote speaker and consultant to government bodies, a member of the British Standards Institute committee responsible for setting and adopting the BS8887 quality standard.

I helped ensure that the standard for remanufacturing, ISO8887, was adopted by the international standards body, a key pillar of the circular economy and the compliant adoption of a reuse model, particularly in the field of IT hardware.

What is circular calculus?

Circular Computing is the global leader in refurbished laptops and our mission is to create a more ethical, sustainable and socially responsible way to buy enterprise grade IT.

Our model works on the belief that the way organizations currently procure technology is not sustainable, runs counter to their net carbon reduction strategies, and is economically inefficient.

We operate from a state of the art remanufacturing facility, with our company holding the world’s first and only BSI Kitemark™ for remanufactured laptops. Businesses or individuals looking to purchase our refurbished laptops will be confident that what they are purchasing is “as good as or better than new laptops”. Through our 360-point circular remanufacturing process, we deliver HP, Dell and Lenovo laptops that look and function like new, ensuring carbon-neutral processes and end products.

This process offers an innovative and real alternative to “new”, going far beyond an aesthetically enhanced finish to emphasize performance and reliability.

Tell us all about sustainable technology.

Remanufacturing helps return a product near the end of its first life cycle to ‘like new’ operation or improved levels of performance instead of being thrown away and contributing to the huge e-waste pile. The process addresses the growing e-waste crisis and can help organizations save money and become more sustainable immediately.

Minimize the cost of raw materials, energy and water and save money by reducing the amount of waste to be disposed of. Not buying brand new can mean existing laptops can be preserved beyond their first iteration, whether used for parts, properly recycled or remanufactured for a second life, helping to slowly but surely break the cycle of unsustainable consumption and unnecessary waste. electronic.

For every refurbished laptop, approximately 700 lbs (316 kg) of CO2 emissions are avoided by not buying new ones. For just 1,000 laptops, that’s like taking 80 cars off the road for a year. Over 190,000 liters (50,000 gallons) of water is saved from being used for mining, refining, and manufacturing a new computer and its components. That’s enough drinking water for over 700 years for the average American.

Can you share e-waste statistics with us?

Currently, the amount of e-waste generated globally increases by 57 million tonnes annually with 347 million tonnes still in an unrecycled state on earth and only 17.4% of e-waste is known to be collected and recycled correctly. 160,000 laptops are disposed of every day in the EU alone and for every new laptop that needs to be replaced, an average of 316kg of CO2 is created, 190,000 liters of water is used and 1,200kg of earth and rock is extracted.

These bad habits have now placed the UK in 2nd place for producing most e-waste as a country in 2022 (23.9kg per capita) and it is on track to take the unwanted top spot by 2024. With with the UK missing its waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collection target for the sixth year running last year, this is setting an alarming trend that all sectors, not just tech, should be concerned about.

If everything stays the same and technology and other industries don’t have a handle on this problem, it is estimated that the annual amount of e-waste could more than double by 2050. This means it is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. and we have to do something about it to avoid a global crisis.

Does the tech industry now have the tools to tackle the e-waste crisis?

The tech industry is more than capable of tackling the e-waste crisis with its own innovation like remanufacturing now certified as good or better than new. However, big IT users must first start tackling their unsustainable habits before they can really start making progress in tackling the mountain of e-waste they face.

The way many companies currently buy their IT could be increasingly sustainable. While no one could argue against the decision to buy new equipment on a regular basis because of its performance, reliability and because everyone likes things shiny and new, doing so ignores the vicious cycle of take, make and replace that is slowly harming our planet.

To address such a vicious circle, we need to develop a sustainable consumption and production model that takes into account reuse, a goal that technology leaders should strive for to address the e-waste crisis.

It is important to note that the industry itself cannot do it alone and government support will be crucial in promoting and driving change. For now, the use of refurbished laptops will slowly but surely break the cycle of unsustainable consumption and unnecessary e-waste, especially at the enterprise level. Such a process can help develop sustainable consumption, help achieve net zero goals, cut costs and protect our natural environment for future generations. However, more organizations need to take the first steps to make a real difference. We urge organizations of all sizes to join us on this journey to help grow the circular tech economy and begin tackling e-waste.

What do the next 12 months hold for you?

We have just launched Remanufacturing as a Service (RaaS), where the customer gives us access to their IT assets and we are able to collect it, remanufacturing it and present it to them for reinstallation as if it were brand new – at a fraction of the price.

We see clients trying to “sweat their assets,” and while a good strategy isn’t resilient, the asset will break at some point. RaaS provides certainty, against which a strategy can be adopted. This creates the ultimate circular ecosystem, which builds resilience to supply chains and which puts the customer in control, prolongs asset life while professionally retaining total value. Customers can and do have a hybrid between purchasing remanufactured devices from our property and remanufacturing their own.

The next 12 months will build on that, along with increasing our commitments to the environment and society, for example to further deliver on our reforestation commitment (over 300,000 trees planted to date, supporting vulnerable pockets of global society and providing them with a sustainable environment to build their lives) while also educating the market. Ultimately, though, we want to increase our production while reducing our carbon footprint.

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