The impact that the circular economy would have is so broad that no single conversation can quite cover its reach.
Today’s conversation with Craig Melson, Program Manager at techUK, touches on many topics, proving an excellent overview of how technology is moving us towards the circular economy.
We open by talking about Craig’s role and what techUK is doing to help the tech industry embrace more sustainable practices. Craig then shares examples of innovative tech companies that are driving material reusability, or even basing their entire model on circular economy practices.
From data privacy concerns to the dangers of dealing with pollutants, we discuss the biggest challenges blocking our progress to a circular economy.
After touching on the Material Focus project, Craig provides insight into how government regulation and Brexit affect circular economy practices.
Following this, he expresses his optimism about how companies are heading in the right direction along with his hope that the circular economy will eventually become our default economic model.
Near the end of the episode, we touch on the benefits of learning from international perspectives and what techUK is doing to advocate for greater diversity before Craig gives listeners some final advice on what they can do to push for a sustainable economy.
Tune in to hear more about tech and the circular economy.
Craig is Programme Manager across Digital Devices, Environment and Compliance and Consumer Electronics which covers issues as diverse as modern slavery, conflict minerals, new tech, compliance and Brexit.
Prior to joining techUK he worked in public affairs, communications, television and consumer electronics and he has an avid interest in new and emerging technologies.
Craig has a degree in Ancient History from King’s College London and spends his time watching Watford FC.
“We're seeing circularity becoming a much bigger driver for start-ups and innovation. People are basing their entire business models around helping people become more circular." — Craig Melson, @techUK
Tune in to find out:
Introducing Craig Melson and his role at techUK.
Exploring why Craig helped create a conference devoted to the circular economy.
How techUK is helping the tech industry move towards the circular economy.
Craig shares insights into how his industry has been embracing reusability models.
Examples of how tech companies are driving sustainable practices.
The importance of aligning the circular economy with reduced business costs.
Hear about the main challenges impeding the progress of the circular economy.
Difficulties in quantifying the second-hand telecoms market and people’s concerns with data privacy.
How the Material Focus project is pushing research into reusing materials.
The impact of regulation on circular practices and the consultations that techUK provides.
Why Craig thinks that the circular economy will grow to eclipse the traditional economy.
Adopting a global perspective and learning from international best practices.
What techUK is doing to advocate for diversity in the tech industry.
Craig’s advice on what you can do to move towards the circular economy.
And much more!
“Technology can accelerate other sectors in becoming more circular. There’s an appetite for that in the tech sector itself. Companies that don’t embrace it will stick out like a sore thumb." — Craig Melson, @techUK
Links mentioned in this episode:
[00:00:04] ES: Hello and welcome back to Happy Porch Radio, Season 5. This season, we are discussing tech and digital software roles in the circular economy.
Today, we have the great pleasure of being joined by Craig Melson. Craig is a Program Manager at techUK. He works across digital devices, environment, and compliance and consumer electronics.
This program covers issues as diverse as modern slavery, comfort minerals, new tech compliance and Brexit. Quite a broad umbrella there. The reason that we reached out to Craig specifically, was following a conference hosted by techUK in 2019. After which, they published a report at the end of 2019 about tech and the circular economy. Given the theme of this year's season, it seemed like a perfect match for us.
[00:01:02] BO: Yeah. The report and the web page which we'll make sure we link on happyporchradio.com, I think is a really excellent summary of some really relevant points about both the advantages and reasons and opportunities in the circular economy. Also, some of the challenges that need to be overcome, some of the blockers and some of the — yeah, some of the things that might need to change in order to enable the circular economy.
The conversation with Craig, I think was really fascinating and hopefully, helps along with some of our other introductory episodes to set the scene for some of the more very specific examples that we're going to be covering through the rest of the season.
[00:01:44] ES: Also, as an example of just how broad this topic really is, the amount of things that come up and that Craig was talking about that we just really saw the tip of the iceberg of some of these issues and opportunities within this topic, it's just so vast that there's a lot that we can really dive into here.
[00:02:08] BO: Yeah. It's also interesting, so techUK for those who are unaware, is a technology membership organisation who represents the UK. And it's a very broad — across the whole technology sector membership organisation. It's really interesting to me that they're looking to play, amongst all their other roles, are looking to play a leading role in the sustainability conversation in the circular economy. Both within the technology sector, but also as Craig described, the opportunity for technology, digital and software to be enabling and to be a positive part of this circular economy.
[00:02:43] ES: Really, we talked a lot about this whole concept of that societal cultural transition that techUK is taking up this role to help the whole process move in that direction. Craig acknowledges that we are at the beginning of this process, that currently circularity is not the norm for business models and for businesses, but that we are moving in a direction. And hopefully, that we’ll end up where circularity becomes completely the default option for many businesses and specifically, within the tech industry.
[00:03:21] BO: Absolutely. It should be the economy, rather than the circular economy. Not to say that circular economy is — it's not to say the circular economy is a panacea for every problem we're facing. But it is, I think, a really crucial part of a successful future for all of us. Without any further ado —
[00:03:39] ES: Yeah. It plays an important role.
[00:03:41] BO: Yeah, absolutely. Without any further ado, let's meet Craig.
[00:03:50] CM: Hi, everyone. I’m Craig Melson, a Program Manager at techUK, which is the trade association for companies operating in the digital economy. I focus on environment and how tech companies can become not only more sustainable themselves, but help others in their sustainability journeys.
[00:04:07] BO: Excellent. Welcome to the show. It's really cool to have you here. One of the reasons I reached out to you, Craig, was that at the end of last year, techUK hosted a circular economy conference. The report that you created and the summary webpage, I thought was outstanding. There's a lot of really interesting stuff there.
As you know, this season of our podcast is all about the circular economy and how digital and software in particular can be part of that, or be enablers, or what role that plays. I thought we’d start there. Why a circular economy conference? How does that fit with your role within techUK and the broader umbrella?
[00:04:48] CM: This conference specifically looked at a lot of the circular business models and all the regulation, those changing patterns that we're seeing when it comes to tech and the circular economy. This is a quite key issue for tech companies. We're seeing more and more companies moving and changing their business models to become more circular. We're seeing a lot of work going on in the UK and Europe, around regulation and policy. So companies are having to do more of this.
I’ve also seen more demand from — for the end-users of products. Whether that's a business-to-business environment, where circular and reuse models have been fairly well-established, to more and more consumers being a bit more demanding of the companies that they use. And being a bit more searching in their questions around how they approach resource consumption. It's been a big part of what we do at techUK. We have a working group around it and we have a lot of members doing some really interesting stuff in this space.
[00:05:53] BO: Yeah, that's really interesting. I’d love to dig into that in more detail. Just one question before we do that, from your own point of view, what has led you personally to the point where you're playing this role with a focus on sustainability and within an organisation, like techUK?
[00:06:07] CM: I mean, techUK is an organisation I’ve known for a fairly long time. It's had various guises. What I think is really, really interesting is not only how tech companies can get their own house in order and actually, figure out, “Okay, how can we basically, minimize and reduce our resource consumption?” I always find it really interesting, which is how tech can be used to help others do that as well. How come, by adopting digital solutions, using new technologies, like for example, AI and sensor monitoring, IoT, how can you embed those technologies in other — perhaps, or legacy areas. And areas that never really thought about it and help them become more sustainable? I just think that element is so fascinating.
[00:06:58] BO: I couldn't agree more. You've just basically described exactly why we're doing this season of the podcast. I think it's really interesting. And tying it together as you say, walking the talk internally within the industry, within businesses, but even potentially, more exciting how as a sector, as an industry, we can be a part of and an enabler and a multiplier effect on the positive outcomes there.
[00:07:21] CM: It makes it easier as well. By adopting digital technologies, you can actually do things that you were not able to do before, especially for a smaller company. Or if you haven't got the resource. You can actually basically outsource some of that and actually, get the tech to do the heavy lifting. Really interesting.
[00:07:43] BO: Yeah. Powerful. It ties purpose into work, I think, it just brings the whole thing to life. Within techUK, so you said there's a working group, you had this conference. What is techUK’s role in this, do you see?
[00:07:58] CM: Some of it is around the policy and regulation side for helping our members understand exactly what is required of them. In helping them shape and inform how those regulations will look. The other is around capacity building and sharing knowledge, because obviously, we're an association. We have lots of members focusing on this area, from the largest, big tech manufacturers, to software providers, to cloud operators, but also, to hundreds of startups and smaller companies. We're doing very specific things.
Part of our role as a convening body is to allow for that information sharing and being able to basically, bring our members and bring other stakeholders and consultancies and academics and clever people to really show what's going on in the stacks. — From what is possible and how they can actually shift their operations to become more circular. That's traditionally what a trade association really is about that convening and knowledge sharing.
[00:09:01] ES: How is the uptake of this been amongst your members? Is there a lot of enthusiasm for it? Well, I mean, I feel in lots of industries, there's a feeling of — “I understand this is necessary, but I’m worried about X, Y and Z, because at the end of the day, I still need to run my business?”
[00:09:21] CM: I mean, the tech sector is very diverse. You've got everything from, as I mentioned, people making laptops and servers and televisions and games consoles, to people doing back-end IT. People doing clever, futuristic stuff with AI and machine learning. You've got data centres. You've got telecoms networks. I mean, where different companies are in this approach to circularity really depends where they are.
The manufacturers have traditionally been very advanced in this, because I mean, objectively, they're the ones who have the highest term impact. One of the statistics that was presented at the conference was, if you look at a data centre, it's essentially where everything is crunched and distributed. 80% of the related emissions are in the manufacturing phase of that technology. As well as if you can have a — of the technology in the IT within the data center. If you can have a reuse and recycling model, you can actually only cut your resource impacts down, but you can also — and lower your own costs. You can also cut down your emission.
We're seeing some areas of the manufacturing side being very, very aware of their circularity obligations. And some of that was indeed obligation through various rules and regulations. Also, are a lot of business drivers as well. I mean, the B2B server market is actually very advanced in this area. These are printers as well. They've been using service models. Rather than buying a product, say rather than buying a printer for X thousand pounds, you lease it on a service contract for multiple years. But you get all the services and support and all the infrastructure around it. Well, as just aside from being just a, here's a box that you sit in the corner that will spit out paper.
We've seen that take off more widely as well. Yeah, but we're seeing other areas and other bits of the tech sector coming onboard with that, so you're seeing a lot of purpose-driven startups really seeing the circular economy as their business model. And we had some of them present at our conference and we've had a lot of really interesting discussions with those companies.
[00:11:33] BO: From those companies, have you got a favourite one, or two examples, or things that you always — that you would describe as the most interesting, or the poster childs, or the ones that you're most fascinated by?
[00:11:44] CM: Yeah, we're not really meant to big up one company over the other, but there's one that is absolutely fantastic called Greyparrot.ai. Which uses a thing called video recognition, so video pattern. You can stick a camera in something and it will turn the software behind the camera that's reading the video can tell you what you're looking at.
Now, this is being used for all sorts of applications. But what Greyparrot is doing is going into waste sites and actually saying, “Okay, you have four sofas, five chairs, whatever.” Making people more aware, what’s actually in tips and refuse centres and stuff. So that can be refurbished, things like that. I think from a business model, another one we have present at our conference was Sky. Obviously, the big TV and telecoms company. They've moved towards a leasing model for their equipment. What that does when you move to that, or rather than basically, giving someone a Sky box and it's there potentially forever, you're actually leasing it. It's built into the subscription. So at the end of life, you can actually take it back and refurbish it and reuse it, rather than having to obviously, develop and produce a new one. I think that's a really good, quite sensible one.
We're seeing hundreds of startups like this. Well, I mean, Olio is another good one as well. Well, this is an app that is being used, I think they got quite an extensive marketing campaign going on at the moment, where essentially, it's a sharing platform. You can basically just take a picture of stuff that you've got going free in your house, whether that's food, furniture, soft furnishings, whatever. Then, someone else can contact you and say, “Oh, I would like that.” Then you can contact someone and say, “Oh, I’d like your thing.”
We're seeing circularity becoming a much bigger driver for startups and innovation and people basing their entire business models around helping people become more circular. It's really exciting. It shows that there's money and there's growth and there's investment and there's some real enthusiasm behind it.
[00:13:47] BO: Yeah. I think that, for me, is one of the most exciting things — as I’ve said already several times in this season. — Is that the exciting alignment of the business benefits and opportunities with environmental and sustainability benefits. The example you gave with the data centers and manufacturing, if we're literally reducing the physical, then that's reusing cost, which leads directly to the bottom line. It's aligning those two things, which is the only way it seems to me that it can work.
[00:14:16] CM: It does. Yeah. It does. It's just becoming much more integrated. This is more everyday thinking as well. We've got the material efficiency standards as well, being developed. These are going to further help companies think about circularity in their design. Basically, from the design, you're going to make things easier to upgrade, easier to disassemble, easier to recycle using common parts. We're going to see more of that in the future.
To be honest, you might even get to the point, I mean, probably this is quite a long way down the line, where there won't be a thing anymore, the circular economy will cease to exist, because it will be the default.
[00:14:55] BO: Yeah, it'll just be the economy.
[00:14:56] CM: Yeah. In some sectors and some processes, we’re already seeing that. Well, the default is to reuse something, rather than get a new one.
[00:15:07] BO: With that in mind, what do you see as the current — and there are some excellent points in the report from your conference. But from your point of view, what are the current biggest challenges, or blockers to a more circular economy digital sector?
[00:15:22] CM: I think some of it is around data, knowing what is in the value chain, where it is, how you can access it. I think that's a hugely challenging area. There are some of the regulatory barriers as well and some conflicting agendas. For example, in the recycling and reuse debates for products, there's a bit of a tension between the safety and the circular economy agendas.
For example, so if you make a laptop, or make a product easier to disassemble, so anyone can have a go at repairing it, you're also potentially exposing that person who's doing that to electric shock risks. Or perhaps, potentially breaking it then they might need a whole new one after all. That's one of the challenges. How do you square safety and the needs for safe and authorized repair with those issues? I think, as well, some of some of the regulatory bits can be a bit confusing as well, especially when it comes to some of the substances that can be within the products.
We are helping oversee this campaign called ‘Material Focus,’ which is looking at how we can actually help the delivery of basically, e-waste rules. One of it is looking at the substances within the products, how making it easier to get the critical raw materials, making it better to understand the POPS — or the persistent organic pollutants that exist within products as well. Then, how do you recycle those goods if there's a risk that those — you may change the state of the product that actually has pollutants in it, so that's one of the bigger challenges.
I think as well, as in the business space, with business IT, there is some — also, a cultural stigma around adopting used products. I think a lot of people — “But okay, we want to have top of the range. We don't want to compromise our business by having second-hand, sub-standard goods.” So the secs has got to do a pretty better job of actually showing that they can be just as good. For the consumer, some research that Material Focus carried out and we've had it supported by lots of anecdotal evidence from our members is that data security is a key issue.
People are reluctant to throw away old devices, because they don't want — they want to have obviously, they want to retain custody of the data that's on those machines. I’m seeing a lot of innovation around data wiping and how companies can actually fully ensure that there's no residual data within those products.
[00:18:07] BO: It's really interesting — there are the several broad themes there, which I think is really interesting. Those challenges are also the opportunities to [inaudible]. But the point there, and I got the practical considerations of like, “We don't have the data, we don't have visibility into our supply chain, we don't have understanding or the knowledge,” versus the policy. Which is a broader — there's as you said, manufacturings have some of them. And they have requirements that they need to meet. Maybe that, and I think it was a point that came out of your very excellent report, that policy is needed. It's not that the circular economy is happening, but policies needed to get it to the next stage.
Then the final thing, which I think is from a digital and from a software point of view is really interesting. That is the cross between the software, the digital thing and the real world and the human and the way things are presented. If I can solve the problem of wiping data technically, but that's not enough. I also need to be able to prove both before somebody sends me the device and once it's done that it's actually genuinely done. There's a bunch of really interesting challenges and takeaways there.
[00:19:24] ES: It's about the trust between customer and business and customer machine and all these different elements have to go together, but you're saying you have to trust us to a certain extent. That we are doing this to the best of our ability in terms of that data security. People's fears in that respect are really genuine, legitimate. I agree, Barry, that there's a level of opportunity here that maybe the industry becomes a solution.
[00:19:52] CM: I think within the data wiping, I mean, the technology is relatively proven. It's just yeah, making the people feel sufficiently confident that they would actually do it. Now, we're seeing refurb offers, we're seeing refurbishment enter the marketplace within the telco industry, which is really interesting. Actually, what's driving that is lower prices. You can either pay, let's say, 40 pounds a month for a new phone, or you can pay 30 pounds a month for the same phone, but someone's just — you've been using it for a few months.
I mean, price is a driver here as well. One thing that is very hard to quantify, we attempted it in a paper a couple of years ago. And there's been various academic ones, academically looking at this as well, about the scale of reuse and basically, people selling electronics privately. You go on eBay, or Facebook Marketplace, or Gumtree or other marketplaces and there'll be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of old laptops, old mobiles, old computing equipment, anything with data on it that — but could have data storage potential. People are obviously willing enough to buy them. It's been really hard to actually quantify the scale of that market and how much of it is happening. A lot of it is going under the radar, because it's inherently quite difficult to quantify.
[00:21:12] BO: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I wanted to go back then to was it Materials Focus, Materials — Focus? Is that the program you mentioned?
[00:21:19] CM: Yeah. Material Focus is a organisation set up by the producers of IT equipment, or electronic equipment, so it's not just us, it's domestic appliances, it's lighting, it's all sorts of things. It's an organisation that's basically trying to get a much better understanding of what's happening in the electronics recycling world. Trying to do some public information and awareness. So just — is a this really interesting campaign. Try and get people to do a spring clean of their old electronics. Take them down to the recycling centre, so they can be reused in new products. There's a lot of stuff sticking around in people's drawers and cupboards that could be reused for new stuff.
[00:22:01] BO: Absolutely. And I think that in itself is a really interesting part of the circular process, is getting the materials back, the reverse logistics. And again, I said to point to people, we'll link by the way, to this report. And the page that I keep mentioning. We'll link to those in happyporchradio.com, because I think they're a really good summary and some excellent content and points there. That challenge of getting things back. You're describing Material Focus as how broad is it? Sounds like quite a big, far-reaching program.
[00:22:34] CM: Yes. It's a multi-million-pound organization. I don't want to bore you with the details, but it essentially — it stems from producers of electronic equipment who are obligated to pay into a central fund. And Material Focus are doing — are funding all sorts of really interesting research. You've got some stuff, really quite techy and quite hardcore academic research going on, all the way through to consumer information, obviously supporting the treatment centre in the COVID crisis. Yeah, they are a very interesting organization doing some really good projects.
[00:23:13] BO: That's really interesting. You mentioned that there were multiple things that techUK is doing. Obviously, that is a brilliant example. You mentioned policy and the information sharing. Can you share some more about that particularly with a circular economy umbrella?
[00:23:31] CM: Yeah. There's very active debate at the moment around the future of circular — or I guess, the regulations that affect tech companies who are trying to become circular. You've got the e-waste regulations. We're expecting a big government consultation this year, which — we’ll be looking at the future of them. We've got a lot of changes to waste shipments. For example, plastic will no longer be able to be exported to non-OECD countries. This is an attempt to make sure that any plastic is being treated and recycled in the most industrialized, sophisticated countries, who can actually manage the — and have the infrastructure in place to do it in a way that doesn't damage the environment.
We are looking at the implications of Brexit on what's going to happen with circular economy legislation, especially when it comes to things eco-design and — which is the rules and regulations affecting how products are designed and with the environment in mind. There's obviously, the EU Green Deal as well. Obviously, even though our members are very worried about Brexit, they will also be operating in Europe.
We've been working with our sister organization in Brussels to look at how the circular electronics initiative and some of the policy suggestions around labelling and consumer marking and so forth, will work in the context of the EU Green Deal. Yeah, we're very active in those debates. We were in partnership with our members and with the government to see how they're working and see how they're actually being developed. Yeah, that's quite the key part of what we do.
[00:25:13] BO: Yeah. In the context of all that we've talked about, the reasons for the circular economy, why it matters within the tech and software and digital industry, and why and how all of this sets up positive opportunities to be able to contribute, to be able to enable things to happen, or maybe couldn't happen otherwise with digital. But the reality is, I think from all the reports and things that I’ve read that a purely circular — I think Ellen MacArthur talks about — the Ellen MacArthur Foundation talks about the global economy is 9% circular or some. There's always some very small — So it feels like this is still very early. Yet, we're talking here in this conversation as if it's inevitable, or that it's all going to happen. How confident do you feel that this is going to continue to grow and actually, become like we said, where it becomes the economy, rather than the separate thing of the circular economy?
[00:26:11] CM: I think it'll be hugely growing, at least in our sector. We've got commitments from companies like Apple, for example, who are pledging to become mining free. They commissioned and built this new robot that can disassemble — don't quote them wrongly, but I think it's something like a 1,000 iPhones an hour or something like that. We're seeing a lot of work. There's a lot of business opportunity. As say, other sectors, whether that's fashion, whether that's food and drink, whether that's retail, as they become more — tries to become more circular, there's a huge opportunity for data-driven companies, the UK startup and scale up scene and digital companies to offer their services and develop solutions that can help them do that. Whether that's in asset tracking, electronic waste tracking, which is going to become mandatory, whether it's around smarter supply chain stuff, supply chain transparency. So knowing where things are that can't be done without technology, such as the Internet Of Things and remote sensing and having clouds and data analytics built on the back of that. It's a huge opportunity.
I think technology can accelerate other sectors in becoming more circular. Within the sector themselves, there's significant appetite towards that, especially as is the impression now, not only from consumers and politicians and policy-makers, but we're also seeing it from in the investment community. The concept of ESG now is fairly embedded. Yeah, I think it's here to stay. I mean, the ones that don't do that will stick out like a sore thumb.
[00:27:48] ES: Yeah. It's going to flip it, so that the minority is going to become this linear economy and the majority looks more like what the current minority is in terms of circularity.
[00:27:59] CM: There'll still be demand for new products, but there's going to be a growth, I think in the way they're made and sold, essentially, whether that's leasing models, with service models, with support services around it. I think the manufacturers and the companies are experimenting at the moment and some of them will not work out for whatever reason and some will and will become standard, I think.
[00:28:26] ES: Yeah. As we talk about this universal transition, almost towards circular economy, obviously within that, it's really important to ensure that nobody's left behind. And whether that's along the lines of on a global scale, certain economies develop faster than others, or whether it's along social lines, or economic lines, or whatever. I feel like tech, the tech industry can play a role in this in terms of making certain solutions more accessible to everyone. Also, I’m interested in it from a perspective of the tech industry itself, making sure that nobody's left behind in this transition. How do you see that from your perspective?
[00:29:15] CM: We're seeing the growth of devices. It’s huge. I mean, there are estimates out there that are going to be 40 billion devices connected to the internet. Other predictions, there’s 250 billion devices that are connected to the internet. We're seeing across the world really a huge growth in more mobile than fixed connectivity. People are going to be digitally enabled and have access to smartphones.
Not only the fact that using second-hand goods for consumers tends to be cheaper. There's also, if you can keep things and reuse and build up that recycling and reuse capacity. And as devices become more sophisticated, you're going to have huge new markets for them. These are just becoming more digital and e-commerce-driven. You look at the miniaturization of your iPhone, or Android phone, whatever it is, it's your music player, it's your game machine. It's your laptop replacement, in some ways, it's your phone. It's got all these functionalities, where actually, you're seeing a consolidation of devices. You're going to get more and more people having access to much more higher grade technology. I think that's a huge opportunity, especially in the developing world.
Then you see things that it can enable. Microfinance. You're looking at new financial inclusion technologies. You're seeing digital identities, so people can move across borders and access services without having the need for restrictive passports. We're seeing, you've got your smartphone in your personal IT becoming your gateway to so much now, and this is happening at a much more accelerated rate in the developing world and in the industrial as well.
[00:31:02] ES: Yeah. Obviously at techUK, I understand that your focus is the UK, but I noticed in the report that there's lots of examples from various parts of the world, of different ways of dealing with — for instance, there was a an example about recycling model in Japan that focuses more on value over volume and other such things. It feels like there's pockets of these ideas popping up around the world and it's not necessarily that Europe, or the UK is going to lead the way in this. That there can be diversity of ideas and solutions from the offset sort of thing.
[00:31:44] CM: Yeah. I mean, even though, obviously with techUK, a massive chunk of our members and the ones that probably most advanced in this area are all global companies. We have headquarters in not only the UK or Europe, but Japan, South Korea, the United States. That inherently means, you do get the best practices from across the world.
Yeah, you're right. You're seeing new models popping up all over the place. I mean, part of our job is to see what we can do to consolidate and see what works and what doesn't work. For example, we've seen that with approach to regulation. We've externally produced a responsibility. We've been mapping what was working, what isn't working globally and we're seeing that with the supply chain as well. We are seeing a global approach now. Obviously, it makes sense for us if it's harmonized, but making sure there's access to good ideas and access to services, yeah, is important.
[00:32:41] BO: Yeah, that makes total sense. Go ahead, Emily.
[00:32:47] ES: How about within the tech industry itself, in terms of this idea of diversity and inclusivity? Have you seen a rise in those — you mentioned at the beginning of the episode that people within your community are coming from all different sizes of organization, from all different angles of looking at this problem. Do you think that as an industry the diversity is growing?
[00:33:12] CM: Yeah, we're seeing that. I hear you said there's an entire work stream in techUK around what we can do to improve that diversity. Whether that's around the pay gap reporting, there's work going on around — “How do you get returners and working mothers back into the workplace?” Yeah, and every company has taken this very much onboard. And has got schemes in place. I thought just the other day, I think we were talking about the importance of apprenticeships and skills being open to the widest possible number of people, that there are no barriers to entry. We discussed that with the minister on I think, on another podcast. Yeah, it's an absolutely — and our president is — made this a very, very, very key priority for the organization.
[00:34:03] ES: Nice. Yeah, I think it seems like a bit of a tangent from talking about questions of circular economy. I do think that the two go hand in hand when we're talking about this transition, particularly as it is a huge cultural shift. We talk a lot about different mindsets and different behavior patterns, etc. That question of involving everyone and embracing all the diversity that everyone can offer, especially in an industry like tech. That where there's — talking so much about the opportunities that are available and the potential that lies here in this transition, it’s really exciting and it's good to hear that so many people are getting involved in that.
[00:34:46] CM: It is. I mean, it may seem disconnected, but I guess, it's all based around that theme of responsible business. So companies pay a lot more attention and are having a lot more of an involvement in the impact that they're having and their response to societal concerns. I mean, it's absolutely huge. Yeah, it's very related, because both issues fall into that, as do issues around business and human rights, how the products are used, things like emissions and energy reduction.
[00:35:16] ES: Yeah. You mentioned the example of when there was that taking materials apart and making sure that people are in safe working conditions. All these things come into the factors that come into play when thinking about this transition. It's all important stuff that has to be taken into account.
[00:35:35] CM: Indeed. Yeah.
[00:35:36] BO: This whole season is about us exploring this topic and trying to approach all the questions we've touched on there, or at least scratch the surface a little bit. In the future episodes, we'll be talking to some of the people doing — actually, doing some of the examples, related to the examples that you gave.
The question I’d like to finish on if that's okay, Craig, is, if you were to give one piece of advice to the listener and the listener being a web professional, or working in an agency, or a digital software and service sector, who's looking to maybe explore some of these opportunities that you're describing within the circular economy — what would that advice be?
[00:36:17] CM: That would be engage your supply. If you're working in an agency, or in a digital setting, engage your suppliers. So, whether that's your cloud hosting company, your web platforms, just to see what they're doing on this. And then make conscious procurement choices around choosing the suppliers that have the best answers to your sustainability questions. I mean, if they don't really know, if they can't point to anything that's a bit of a red flag. Trying to choose suppliers who you can do that.
Also, try to engage your, for example, your property supply. If you're in a rented one, so find out what happens to your waste and everything. And in your materials. I think the last one as well, look at the technology that you're using yourself, see what can be done to try and get reused, or pre-loved, or lots of other nice descriptors, versions of your equipment. It's a bunch of new laptops costing 800 pounds each sufficient, or if you can secure that elsewhere. That's some of those key ones as well.
[00:37:19] BO: That'll make sense. I think, like I said, what we'll do is we'll make sure that we link to techUK and the circular economy report in the page that you mentioned on happyporchradio.com. On the show notes for this episode. Craig, just finally, for anybody who is looking to find out more about this, where would you point them to?
[00:37:38] CM: Well, I could point them to obviously, ourselves. That's techuk.org and we're listed in the environment and compliance program, but there are also wonderful organizations doing things out there. There are consultancies like Anthesis, who are doing a lot of the really clever heavy lifting. There’s also ERM. There's organizations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, or WRAP, which are really good primers and explainers for what circular economy could look like.
[00:38:11] BO: Excellent. Thank you so much again. Really appreciate your time and thanks, Emily.
[00:38:15] CM: Yeah, thank you for having me on.
[00:38:16] ES: Thank you, Craig.
[00:38:19] ANNOUNCER: You can find notes and links from this episode, plus a full transcript at happyporchradio.com. If you are enjoying the show, please take a moment to give us a positive review on your favourite podcast app.
Thanks for listening to Happy Porch Radio.