Tablets and laptops are more than just tech devices. Modern education would not be possible without them, as they offer an ideal interactive experience for students, especially in developing reading and writing skills, gaming skills, and learning about the world around them.
The devices (not including the internal chips and mechanisms) are made from plastics and the need for plastic materials is expected to increase exponentially in the next five years in order to meet the educational demands of manufacturing them for use in schools. As a plastics-materials supplier, Covestro wants to reclaim these parts for recycling, versus “cradle to grave” practices where the end of the useful lifecycles is in a landfill. Covestro wishes to improve the end-of-life process and bring laptop materials back into the loop, thus the term “cradle-to-cradle” manufacturing.
To fully reclaim these materials, a system must be in place to return these materials to be processed and made into new notebooks. Today, computer manufacturers rely on existing recycling systems that work with limited access to recycled materials, especially those that can be cost-effective, because recycling has a reputation for being expensive. Recycling also has an overall low rate of participation, however, the need by manufacturers and material suppliers for recycled plastic has never been greater. Users must also participate by putting expired notebooks into an established recycle stream, which is time-consuming, not always user-friendly and generally focused on metal recovery, not plastics.
We Need Your Help!
What business models, partnerships, and campaigns will help facilitate the recovery of plastic parts from end-of-life education notebooks for use by material suppliers in a closed-loop system?
How might manufacturers encourage plastic recovery through new design features, such as appearance and branding?
How can students and schools districts play a leading role in preparing notebooks for recycling at end-of-life?