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Do we have to slow down digitalisation? –

Do we have to slow down digitalisation? –
Do we have to slow down digitalisation? –

The digitization of Western societies has led to an insane consumption of electronics, and Norway is the country in Europe that produces the most electronic waste. We need to slow down this spending spree. It is about how we can produce and consume more responsibly.

Recycling of electronic waste represents an annual value of NOK 120 million worldwide, and the economy is growing. By 2030, it is expected that this amount of waste will grow by 500 percent.

On a global basis last year, we produced 63 million tonnes of electronic waste. For the first time, this type of waste weighs more than the world’s heaviest man-made object – the Great Wall of China.

It’s nothing to be proud of.

The IT industry has major challenges, both in terms of value chains and circularity. If we are to achieve the EU’s goal of being fully circular by 2050, we must take action – now.

The life cycle of electronics

Every year we Norwegians buy two million mobile phones. At home in Norwegian drawers and cupboards there are 10 million mobile phones that we do not use.

The explosive growth of technology has led to the extraction and consumption of minerals and metals. We’re about to run out.


Rare metals such as europium and terbium are no longer available. A circuit board consists of approximately 30 percent copper. It is estimated that we will run out of copper as early as 2040 from conventional mines.

Therefore, the extraction of metals and minerals has become a geopolitical challenge that we must deal with.

We need metals and minerals

The expression “urban mining”, or urban mining in Norwegian, is about seeing and utilizing the resources in our waste. Electronic waste contains valuable minerals and metals that we can extract.

Did you know, for example, that one tonne of mobile phones corresponds to approximately 150 grams of gold, three kilograms of silver and 100 grams of copper, as well as a number of rare metals such as platinum and ruthenium. These metals and minerals are needed to develop new products.

It is therefore absolutely crucial that we are able to return the units to the value chain. In addition, the extraction of minerals and metals from existing electronics requires only 15-20 percent of the energy consumption compared to extraction from conventional mines.

We must have a circular approach

Suppliers and manufacturers of IT equipment can no longer disclaim responsibility for the value chain of which we are a large part.

Circular economy, also called circular economy, aims for resources to remain in the economy. We achieve this by reducing the use of raw materials, reducing emissions and energy consumption to a minimum. It is about looking at all links in the value chain.

Therefore, we have to build circular business models where all products we sell must be taken back into the value chain, by being reused, repaired or recycled.

Sustainability is no longer about easy greenwashing and a few nice words on the website. Working with sustainability is a demanding and comprehensive exercise where every business must look through everything from the products and services they sell on the market to their entire value chain.

The value chain can contain several thousand different actors and no one says that this work is easy.

The work with sustainability has never been more demanding. Nor has it ever been more important. And we have to move from linear to circular business models.


The article is in Norwegian

Tags: slow digitalisation Digi .no

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