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Flex and Peak supporting circular economy drive

With recycling a key part of getting to net zero, we take a closer look at the actions of a couple of players in the market

The media puts huge expectations on companies these days. No wonder all those poor executives are stressed out – they’re all expected to have a net-zero figure, and you know how difficult that can be to achieve! 

One of the easiest ways to lower your company’s carbon footprint is to recycle. This is why, according to Gartner Research, a new purchasing trend is emerging in technology supply chains, with the “circular economy” increasingly likely to affect buying patterns.

Having said that, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Have you ever tried to recycle electronic waste? Have you ever tried to recycle any cables? This could mean huge demand for two circular economy enablers that announced new services in April.

UK digital supply chain specialist Peak Technologies has launched a scheme to boost refurbishment by simplifying the collection and management of mobile devices. Meanwhile, Netherlands-based lifecycle management specialist Flex IT has acquired its German demo partner MKCL because demonstrating the value of refurbished kit is a valuable skill. Both initiatives seek to boost refurb rates by widening the channels of distribution.

Peak Technologies said its aim is to help companies meet their net-zero targets and corporate social responsibility obligations by simplifying corporate recycling. Specialising in digital supply chain, mobile workforce and retail handsets and gadgets, the company has evolved into the role of net-zero enabler, according to UK managing director Rene Schrama.

“We have invested in our expertise to help our customers enjoy the benefits of the circular economy. By partnering closely with our customers, we can together contribute towards a more sustainable world”
Rene Schrama, Peak Technologies

It started by providing maintenance contracts for the mobile computers, wireless networks and barcode printers it sold. It then found that refurbishing old systems at its Chippenham facility tripled a gadget’s lifetime and cut carbon emissions by eliminating a lengthy trip to an Eastern European repair centre. Harvesting spare parts from obsolete machines and extracting metals and minerals expanded as a business activity, to the point where Peak processed tonnes of material in 2021. These activities had proved too complicated and time-consuming for clients to set up.

Peak Technologies has now set up an incentive scheme to simplify the realisation of net-zero targets for tech companies. It gathers donated technology and organises for it to be wiped by a service company, Blancco, then arranges for it to be sold through The British Heart Foundation’s BHF eBay shop. The company then commissions the planting of a tree through the HutGroup’s More Trees system. Peak Tech then does all the tricky sustainability accounting and certifies each customer on the amount of CO2 it has saved.

“At Peak Technologies, we have invested in our expertise to help our customers enjoy the benefits of the circular economy,” said Schrama. “By partnering closely with our customers, we can together make a good contribution towards a more sustainable world.” 

The path of the circular economy does not run entirely smoothly in Europe, according to Netherlands-based Flex IT, one of the largest European specialists in IT lifecycle management. Flex IT has offices in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Sweden, Bulgaria and the UK. Buying MKCL gives it access to a demo service company, which helps it get buy-in from users and sales partners, and gets the wheels of the circular economy moving faster, according to Flex IT CEO Leon Timmermans.

“With the acquisition of MKCL, Flex IT takes another big step forward in its position as a circular service provider for [mobile tech] vendors”
Leon Timmermans, Flex IT

“With the acquisition of MKCL, Flex IT takes another big step forward in its position as a circular service provider for [mobile tech] vendors,” said Timmermans. “Flex wants to support companies in this transition, and the acquisition of MKCL helps to make this ambition a reality.”

MKCL has 20 years’ knowledge of the logistics, production and trading of tech hardware, and the rare, niche skills needed for “demo pool management”, which are increasingly in demand in the refurb industry. “The acquisition will help MKCL to grow to its full potential [because] Flex IT is one of the largest circular IT organisations in the world,” said MKCL CEO Michael Frautz. 

It is looking for UK partners. The demand is there, according to Gartner research released in April, which said the majority of supply chain professionals expect the emphasis on the circular economy to increase in the next two years. However, many companies – in the UK especially – struggle to find a timely and simple solution to their electronic waste problems. They’ve got some options now though, but there’s room for plenty more.

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