The project explored the current circular electronics ecosystem of Berlin and identified near-future directions that the city of Berlin could pursue to increase circularity.
FixFirst, Utrecht University
April 2021 – July 2021
With continuous digitalisation, increasing affordability of products and rapid urbanisation, cities produce enormous amounts of electronic waste. Currently, Europe is the biggest generator of this ever-growing waste stream. In Berlin, the amount of electronic waste collected for recycling has stagnated since 2012 and many electronic devices remain in hibernation at consumers’ homes after use. This implies a significant potential for circular end-of-life activities for the electronics sector in Berlin.
The project was divided into three phases:
- An exploration into defining the electronics sector according to the regulations already in place in Germany.
- Desk research to identify all relevant stakeholders active in the circular value chain of the electronics sector in Berlin. This provided a map of the Berlin circular electronics ecosystem.
- In-depth expert interviews to validate potential scenarios in order to create a portfolio of directions the city of Berlin could pursue to increase circularity, and which role Circular Berlin could play in these.
The circular electronics ecosystem demonstrated that most Berlin stakeholders are active in the retail & marketing, use and collection phases of the circular value chain for electronics. This implies an existing infrastructure in these value chain steps, which indicates an opportunity to increase circularity in the short-term. The following four scenarios were drawn up to address these opportunities:
- Establish a culture amongst citizens of repairing their own electronics through repair cafes
- Establish an online B2B exchange platform for electronic repair shops to share knowledge and swap spare parts
- Encourage correct disposal of electronic devices by citizens (based on tailored advice provided on an online platform)
- Establish a Berlin C2C sharing and renting platform for electronics
Scenario 2 (B2B platform) was deemed to be both highly feasible and highly impactful, meaning that it is a scenario worth pursuing. Scenario 3 (correct disposal) was deemed to have a higher reach of impact, while having a relatively low feasibility. Scenario 1 (repair culture) and scenario 4 (C2C sharing and renting) were found to have medium feasibility, but lower reach of impact, meaning that these scenarios can be good stepping stones towards increasing circularity.
Future steps for each scenario were drawn up. In general, scenario 2 (B2B platform) should be kick-started, while more validation for scenario 3 (correct disposal) and scenario 4 (C2C sharing) is needed before continuing with implementation. Finally, scenario 1 (repair culture) provides important opportunities for education and raising awareness by facilitating collaboration in these networks.