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New Cross-Industry Partnerships Give Circular Design a Major Push

The circular economy continues to gain steam as key players in the sustainability sphere join forces to unlock new opportunities to create positive impacts.

First, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) have partnered to drive momentum towards a circular economy.

For the past two years, C2CPII has been an affiliate member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s pre-competitive innovation program — the Circular Economy 100 (CE100) — and contributed to creating learning opportunities, sharing best practices and building collaborations for positive impact.

Through the expanded collaboration, the two organizations will develop initiatives that recognize the value of the Cradle to Cradle methodology in contributing to the advancement of a circular economy with safe materials. The methodology provides a platform for product optimization across five categories: material health; material reutilization; renewable energy and carbon management; water stewardship and social fairness.

“Cradle to Cradle is one of the key schools of through underpinning the circular economy framework. Through this deeper collaboration the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute will contribute its expertise across a number of important programs and initiatives that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is driving to accelerate the transition towards an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design,” said Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“We believe collaboration is critical to accelerating progress towards the circular economy,” said Lewis Perkins, President of C2CPII. “We look forward to leveraging our shared creativity, innovation and optimistic approach to accelerating the circular economy and creating a more positive future for our planet.”

The Institute plans to contribute its expertise on material health and material reutilization to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Fibers Initiative, as well as piloting new tools within the CE100. The organizations also plan to co-develop new education modules around design and collaborate on projects related to fashion, the built environment and circular cities.

Meanwhile, Dell has struck up an unlikely partnership with actress and entrepreneur Nikki Reed to continue the drive toward sustainable, circular design. Together, they have launched the Circular Collection by BaYou with Love and Dell, a limited-edition jewelry collection made with gold recovered from Dell’s recycling programs.

“Bayou with Love was created to bring greater awareness to the human impact on our planet and show that beautiful items can come from sustainably sourced and recycled materials,” said Nikki Reed, co-founder of Bayou with Love. “By recycling gold that was once considered ‘waste,’ Dell and I are working to create an environment where we continuously reuse resources and strive for zero waste.”

The collection will feature 14- and 18-carat gold rings, earrings and cufflinks, with pieces starting at $78. The pieces are available to order at

Alongside the Circular Collection, Dell is also rolling out an industry-first pilot to use recycled gold from used electronics in new computer motherboards, which will ship in the Latitude 5285 2-in-1s starting this spring. The closed-loop gold process could support the creation of millions of new motherboards in the next year and expands Dell’s closed-loop program from plastics to precious metals.

Currently, only 12.5 percent of e-waste is recycled into other products. As a result, it’s estimated around $60 million in gold and silver are thrown away each year through unwanted phones alone. The new Circular Collection and Dell pilot demonstrate the potential for these precious materials to be recycled into goods that are beautiful, valuable and sustainable. Beyond its economic benefits, reusing gold from electronics products creates enormous environmental and social benefits by avoiding the damage to human health and leaching of pollutants commonly associated with mined gold. According to a Trucost study, the gold reclamation process created by Wistron GreenTech, Dell’s environmental partner, has a 99 percent lower environmental impact than traditionally mined gold.

“At Dell, we pride ourselves in finding better, more efficient ways to do business particularly throughout our supply chain,” said Jeff Clarke, Vice Chairman of Dell. “Materials innovation — where and how we source things like plastic, carbon fiber and now gold for our products — is increasingly important for us. When you think about the fact that there is up to 800x more gold in a ton of motherboards than a ton of ore from the earth, you start to realize the enormous opportunity we have to put valuable materials to work. Nikki Reed gets that and so do we. It takes constantly thinking outside of the box and pushing the boundaries of innovation to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.”

To support the effort, consumers in the US can drop off their unwanted and used electronics at a Goodwill® participating in the Dell Reconnect program, a free and responsible recycling services partnered with Dell. Businesses can also participate through Dell’s Asset Resale and Recycling Services.


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