Prior to the Circular Economy Event, we have interviewed Miquel Ballester, who is responsible for Product Management and Innovation at Fairphone. Miquel Ballester shares his vision and expertise about the circular economy, the most important challenges and the opportunities it provides. Besides, he explains how Fairphone is contributing towards the circular economy.
Pioneers in Circular Economy will reap the benefits as they are the game changers who are leading the way. Benefits for the triple bottom line will be huge, but it requires us to abandon old mindsets and collectively embrace a new approach. – Miquel Ballester
What is Fairphone?
Fairphone is a social enterprise that is building a movement for fairer electronics. By making a phone, we’re opening up the supply chain and creating new relationships between people and their products. We’re making a positive impact across the value chain in mining, design, manufacturing and life cycle, while expanding the market for products that put ethical values first. Together with our community, we’re changing the way products are made. Within Fairphone we also focus on exploring Circular Economy business models – investigating new ideas for ownership, service, reuse and recycling.
Circular economy, a system change or a necessity?
It is definitely both. We cannot go further using the same linear system. We need to envision a new paradigm and take the right steps to make this transition. We cannot sit back and imagine a better future while we wait for others to get there; instead, we all need to pioneer this change everyday with small and attainable goals. Pioneers in Circular Economy will reap the benefits as they are the game changers who are leading the way. Benefits for the triple bottom line will be huge, but it requires us to abandon old mindsets and collectively embrace a new approach. At Fairphone, we believe we can transition into a Circular Economy, step-by-step.
How does your organization focus on Circular Economy?
We make it an important part of how we do business, attempting to integrate it at various levels. We are in a transitional period between a linear and Circular Economy but we have a long way to go. We still rely on natural resources and for now our focus is to improve our impact in these areas – such as initiating responsible mining projects – before we can move into a Circular Economy.
Our focus on Circular Economy is brought to life through the design of the Fairphone 2. We are developing a modular architecture which will allow the user to maintain and repair the phone more easily – for example being able to change a broken screen in less than a minute. Our goal is to slow down obsolescence. Also, as the phone is more repairable, it’s easier to refurbish and dismantle, which again reinforces our commitment to Circular Economy.
What are the main challenges concerning Circular Economy?
For us, one of the biggest hurdles is changing mindsets both within the industry and at the consumer level. Once more people begin to adopt a circular approach to economics, we can work together to kick-start this necessary change into motion.
What opportunities does the Circular Economy offer?
Huge environmental, social and economic benefits. At Fairphone, we have completed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies which estimate that if we produce a phone with a lifespan of five years, we can reduce CO2 emissions over the full life-cycle of the device by approximately 30%. In a world where the production of electronics takes place principally in Asia, Circular Economy opens a great opportunity for more labor in Europe, specially supporting services and activities around extending the lifetime of products (through repair). The economic benefit will come from business model innovation as this new paradigm opens opportunities for more loyalty and service based models.
If meet again in 2020, what is the role Circular Economy then?
I think we will still be in a transition, but we will have many more successful examples that will fuel and catalyze the further change. I’m a technology optimist.
Circulaire Economie Congres
In Rotterdam vindt het circulaire economie congres plaats gericht op een nieuwe visie, samenwerking en nieuwe financierings-en business modellen. Tijdens het congres zullen zowel deelnemers uit de hele supply chain van de maak en recycling industrie als initiatiefnemers bij gemeenten, provincies en het rijk samen komen. Ook worden partijen die advies geven op het gebied van (transitie) management, financiën, organisatie advies en IT ook uitgenodigd. Bekijk de website!