How corporates can help accelerate circular economy: reflections from Intel-Zinnov Sustainability Conclave-2021

At the recent Intel-Zinnov Sustainability Conclave, corporate leaders shared their insights of a circular economy, where resources are used concertedly and recycled; and how it is inspiring businesses to be more sustainable.
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The last 150 years of the industrial revolution have been dominated by a linear model of production and consumption where materials are mined, processed, manufactured, sold, and then eventually dumped in landfill.

In recent times, the idea of Circular Economy that promotes smarter use of resources and accelerates reuse and recycling of products or materials is gaining traction. Many companies have set goals towards becoming circular in the next few years.

In his welcome note at Intel-Zinnov Sustainability Conclave, attended by delegates from about 95 organizations, Gokul Subramaniam, Vice President, Client Computing Group and General Manager, Client Platform and Systems, Intel spoke about the operational as well as strategic value that Circular Economy offers and how it could be an opportunity to advance innovation, job creation and economic growth.

“Circularity is critical to embrace, to transition technology from short-term needs to long-term planet wide benefits. Enhancing product longevity, bringing repairability at all stages of product life cycle and reclaiming components with life are all critical aspects to reduce waste. Design for circularity at the start is the best way to drive this shift and bring confidence to consumers to embrace products from circular design,” he said.

“I have the privilege of being a part of Intel, where we build world-changing technologies that improve the lives of every person on earth. When we improve lives, we improve the planet. I am proud that at Intel, our efforts to repair, refurbish and reclaim have enabled us to ensure less than 1% of our product materials get into landfill. I believe Circular Economy is a possibility with the right intent and action,” he added.

Applying technology for circularity

Gokul spoke about five ways technology can be used to power the circular economy

  1. Advanced analytics: To understand environment anomalies, vulnerabilities and risks
  2. Artificial Intelligence: Using learning algorithms for better environment models and optimising consumption
  3. 5G: Faster connectivity to share vast data and real-time insights
  4. Blockchain: Shared digital ledgers to track resource transparency, usage and transitions
  5. Internet of Things: Sensors and devices to gather data for optimal usage of resources and timely interventions

A new era of shared corporate responsibility

Talking about how Intel’s commitment to positive global impact is embedded in its purpose to create technology that enriches the lives of every person on earth, Todd Brady, Director, Global Public Affairs and Sustainability, Corporate Services, Intel Corporation explained Intel’s RISE (responsible, inclusive, sustainable and enabled) strategy.

“We are raising the bar for ourselves and evolving our corporate responsibility strategy to increase the scale of our work with others to create a more responsible, inclusive, and sustainable world, enabled through technology and our collective actions,” he said.

During his keynote address on ‘Key Imperatives for a Circular Economy in Business’, Federico Merlo, Managing Director, Member Relations and Circular Economy, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, said: “There are three key issues that businesses need to address collectively - climate emergency, nature restoration, and social equality.”

The second edition of Intel-Zinnov Sustainability Conclave underlined the need for innovation and collaboration among corporates to advance sustainability. ​​​​​​​​​​​​

As part of her keynote address, Namita Adavi, Engagement Manager, Zinnov, emphasized the role of GCoEs (global centers of excellence) in amplifying ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) models. “As GCoEs start to accelerate their ESG journeys, it is critical to ensure they are contributing to drive global impact and India teams are not working in a silo. It is imperative that India leaders factor in what the global organization is focusing on to define their own ESG charters so that they can truly drive exponential impact,” she said.

At a riveting roundtable, Manas Das, Senior Director, India Business Operations, Intel; Mohammed Anzy S, Chief Operating Officer, SAP Labs India; Padmanabhan L Kannan, Senior General Manager and Head – Corporate Real Estate and Facilities, Bosch; Mahesh Bathija, Head of Central Functions and CSR and Data CoE, Societe Generale Global Solution Centre, India and Romania; discussed the role of sustainability and circular economy for organizations to drive a transformation.

Manas of Intel India highlighted that Intel India’s goal is to make sustainability the backbone of everything we do for employees, business and community. “Our employees are the most important pillar in our strategy. One key example is the recently set up Intel India Sustainability Lab that enables us to co-engineer sustainable products with our partners right from the design stage. This initiative is the brainchild of some of our bright minds,” he said.

Corporate circularity spotlight: Intel India Sustainability Lab

Launched virtually in May 2021, the Intel India Sustainability Lab reinforces Intel India’s commitment to advancing carbon neutral computing. The lab is a testing and certification unit to accelerate carbon-efficient engineering and evaluation centres for responsible sourcing of minerals and raw materials. A key aspect of the lab is to enhance repairability, reliability and reusability at every stage of design, manufacturing and usage.

Innovation in sustainability

The event also featured a startup, TrashCon and CLEAN, a non-profit organization, who showcased their innovations in the sustainability space.

Bengaluru-based TrashCon provides complete end-to-end technology that sorts the waste and recycles it, thus providing a comprehensive solution to convert every bit of waste to value.

CLEAN, a member-centered industry body for the Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) sector, focuses on underserved communities where reliable, affordable and clean energy plays a unique role in accelerating social, environmental and economic development. It highlights the benefits of DRE and facilitates the adoption of sustainable, clean energy interventions for the welfare of communities.


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