The world is suffering from a plastic shortage and PC makers may be responding with a bit of greenwashing • The Register


The world is running out of plastic, and the challenges that come with it – rather than a desire to protect the planet – just might be the reason you’ve recently heard about recycled plastic making its way into laptops and the like. gadgets.

The RegThe company’s interest in recycled materials was sparked by a series of announcements that emerged around Earth Day in April 2021. Acer, for example, introduced the first in a new line of greener products containing post-consumer recycled plastic. Lenovo reminded us that it uses millions of kilograms of recycled plastic every year.

Dell has a 2030 target to reuse or recycle an equivalent product for each product purchased by a customer, while using 100% recycled or renewable packaging materials and having more than half of the product content made from recycled or renewable materials.

This news made us wonder if recycled materials made a difference that readers might notice in a product. We also wondered if the craze for recycled materials was just a sign of virtue, or a signal of real change.

A former Dell design engineer, who moved to new pastures in a related field, shared the following observation:

The analyst firm Gartner seems to have confirmed this idea. The company recently surveyed supply chain professionals and find 51% expect the focus on their circular economy strategies to increase from 2020 to 2022.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the strengths of globalized supply chains can become a weakness when the availability and access to raw materials collapses during a crisis,” said Sarah Watt, senior director, analyst.

KPMG’s partner and supply chain manager Rakesh Agarwal told us he sees plastic shortages severe enough to disrupt production. He said The register:

He cited other factors – such as COVID-19, weather disruption and the blockage of Suez Canal container ships – as having all contributed to the shortages, adding:

Agarwal added that another reason manufacturers use recycled materials might be to achieve sustainability goals, not just to survive the ups and downs of supply chains.

“The increased awareness and focus on sustainability globally is encouraging computer manufacturers to use more recycled parts in the manufacturing process,” he said.

Environmental regulations also change behavior. He said:

With legislation, supply chain issues, and public perception pushing recycled materials, Gartner seems to be right – we’re likely to see this “trend” continue.

One more thing: We asked if recycled plastics could change the experience of using a product. We couldn’t find any evidence that recycled materials make a noticeable difference in performance. ®


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