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Circular Economy in a High-Tech World



Kelsea Schumacher, Martin L. Green


The proliferation of electronics, batteries, and solar panels in recent decades has resulted in a substantial generation of end-of-life (EoL) "high-tech" products. Currently, these products follow a largely linear – extract, make, use, dispose – model, but significant effort is underway to transition to a more circular economy in which product and materials are kept in the economy. However, many technical and economic challenges can impede, constrain, and preclude a CE for high-tech products. Here, we discuss several of these challenges and provide specific data, standards, tools, proposed research and development and educational needs to address them. We further argue that a circular economy cannot be achieved by individual efforts alone, but rather necessitates collaboration across disciplines, industry sectors, public and private stakeholders, and geographical regions.
Nature Sustainability


circular economy, sustainabiility, recycling, reuse, refurbishment, electronic waste, battery waste, photovoltaics waste


Schumacher, K. and Green, M. (2022), Circular Economy in a High-Tech World, Nature Sustainability, [online], (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created October 18, 2022, Updated November 29, 2022