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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Circular Economy Takes Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Not all circular news is good news. As a new startup accelerator launches to drive forward sustainable solutions to everyday challenges, a prominent defender of the circular cause lands himself a spot in federal prison for copyright infringement.

The UK’s first-ever sustainability accelerator fund — the cleverly named Sustainable Accelerator — has been met by enthusiastic reception, successfully raising over £700,000 through crowding.

Launched by Sustainable Ventures, a company providing entrepreneurs with workspaces, accelerator programs and support to develop their businesses, the accelerator aims to drive innovation in the areas of energy, waste management, clean air and resource technology by providing investment to sustainability focused startups.

Sustainable Ventures will accept 10 emerging businesses into the accelerator program and will invest between £50,000-£250,000 to further develop and scale their projects. The program spans one year and will also provide participates with mentorship, networking opportunities, fundraising support and growth services.

The fund received an initial grant of £300,000 from the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), a partnership between the Mayor of London and London’s Boroughs dedicated to improving waste and resource management within the capital, with the aim of turning London into a circular city. Through crowdfunding platform Seedrs, Sustainable Accelerator overshot its original target of £600,000 by 22 percent, raising over £700,000.

“Now more than ever, entrepreneurs are building groundbreaking sustainability technologies at pace and monetizing changes in resource economics,” the company said. “To us it is clear, now is the time to be actively supporting these new innovations and ideas.”

“Sustainable Accelerator is an extension of our original vision — to fund and nurture commercially sound sustainability companies — and is built to provide both the tangible and intangible resources startups need in their first few years.”

Applications for the accelerator are open now until July 14, with the first evaluation demo day is scheduled for Thursday July 27.

In other circular news, the CEO of an electronics reuse and recycling company based in Los Angeles has been sentenced to 15 months in Federal Prison for copyright infringement and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods after distributing’s Microsoft computer restore Freeware.

Clifford Eric Lundgren, CEO of IT Asset Partners, a company that wipes data, recovers components for use in new devices and resells electronics, has developed a reputation as a leader in e-waste recycling, having founded the first US-based Hybrid Electronic Recycling facility and recently made headlines with a project to build an electric vehicle made with recycled parts. Dubbed “The Phoenix,” the car traveled 340 miles on the highway on a single charge. Lundgren’s dedication to the circular cause has, however, landed him in hot water.

The e-waste recycling pioneer has been providing free Dell computer restore CDs to computer refurbishers in the United States, who then gave them to their customers as a free computer repair tool. The move was intended to help divert computers from landfills and empower consumers to fix their tech, but Microsoft wasn’t buying it.

The saga stems from 2011, when Lundgren was living in China and had a Chinese manufacturer reproduce the Dell reinstallation CDs, complete with fake labels. In total, 28,000 discs were made and shipped to the US between June 2011 and November 2013. Lundgren’s troubles began when two shipments were intercepted and seized by US Customs and Border Protection at San Francisco International Airport.

The court’s original indictment asked Lundgren to pay Microsoft $8,400,000 in fines and serve a federal prison sentence of over 57 years. Following an appeals process, the government has dropped the fine to $50,000, and the sentence to 15 months in prison. Lundgren is looking to appeal sentence again.

According to Lundgren, the repair CD comes free with all Dell computers and is also available free to download on The restore CDs could only bring consumers’ original operating system back to its factory settings and they contained no license and no Certificate of Authenticity, as they required a valid license from Microsoft to work. However, Lundgren did make a profit from the sale of the CDs, though financial gains were minimal. Additionally, by signing a plea deal acknowledged that federal prosecutors would have been able to prove that he was illegally copying software so it could be sold to Dell computer refurbishers.

E-waste generation is on the rise and encouraging consumers to properly recycle or find ways to extend the life of their products is key for keeping electronics out of landfill. Innovative and disruptive solutions are needed to address the growing problem, but Lundgren serves as a warning for innovators to tread carefully.


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