Empowering the Ethical Supply Chain: steps to responsible sourcing and circular economy (Lenovo)

7 Dec 2023 16:30h - 18:00h UTC

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Full session report

Speaker 2

The analysis provides a comprehensive overview of several key aspects related to the circular economy and sustainability. It highlights that the circular economy encompasses more than just waste management; it also involves capacity building and partnerships. This suggests that a holistic approach is necessary to fully embrace the circular economy concept.

In terms of data collection in global value chains, the analysis points out the need for effective data collection, integration, and communication to track and measure results. It highlights a specific instance where a blockchain project was halted due to a company refusing to share data along the supply chain. This underscores the importance of transparency and collaboration in achieving sustainable practices within global value chains.

The analysis also delves into the challenges of transitioning from linear to circular production processes. It acknowledges that this shift is not solely about changing the end product but also requires a fundamental change in mindset and operational processes. The analysis emphasizes the difficulty of breaking free from traditional siloed and vertical thinking that often impedes circular economy implementation. This insight highlights the need for a systemic and integrated approach to successfully transition to circular production.

Notably, the analysis sheds light on the priorities of CEOs in private companies, indicating that they tend to focus more on investments, costs, and revenues rather than the environment. The inclusion of environmental considerations in business models can be met with resistance, with many CEOs raising concerns about the financial implications. This observation suggests the importance of addressing the perception that environmental sustainability comes at the expense of financial gains. Bridging this gap and encouraging CEOs to embrace sustainable practices is crucial for achieving climate action goals.

Furthermore, the analysis explores the value of monetizing sustainability and the potential role of a circularity index developed in terms of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG). It highlights that assigning a monetary value to sustainability can be instrumental in driving sustainable transformations. Additionally, it suggests that the cost of borrowing from financial banks can impact sustainability, further emphasizing the economic aspect of sustainability initiatives.

Finally, the analysis underscores the role of ESG in facilitating the transformation towards sustainability. It mentions the indirect reference to the use of ESG in developing a sustainability transformation mechanism. This indicates that ESG principles, which encompass environmental, social, and corporate governance factors, can play a pivotal role in driving sustainable practices across industries.

In conclusion, the analysis provides a detailed understanding of various components of the circular economy, ranging from capacity building and partnerships to data collection and circular production. It highlights the challenges and potential resistance faced in embracing sustainability within private companies. Additionally, it underscores the significance of monetizing sustainability and the role of ESG in driving sustainable transformations. This analysis offers valuable insights for policymakers, businesses, and stakeholders working towards achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

Virginie Le Barbu

The digitalisation of supply chains is considered unavoidable and forms the core of Lenovo's business model. This digitalisation brings several benefits to supply chains, including improved efficiency, enhanced data accessibility, and accelerated decision-making processes. Lenovo recognises the importance of digitalisation and its impact on supply chain management.

One of the key advantages of digitalisation in supply chains is its ability to manage emissions and promote sustainability. Lenovo estimates that 99% of its scope's emissions are linked to their downstream and upstream ecosystem. By embracing digitalisation, Lenovo can effectively manage past and future emissions, gain better visibility of the carbon footprint of its products, and adopt responsible procurement practices. This exemplifies Lenovo's commitment to SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production.

However, it is essential to acknowledge the downside of digitalisation, which is its high energy consumption. This connection between digitalisation and energy consumption is a major concern that companies like Lenovo have to address. Balancing the benefits of digitalisation with the need for energy efficiency and sustainability remains a challenge.

Another challenge faced by Lenovo in their sustainability journey is the need for supplier engagement and support. Suppliers operate at different levels of sustainability maturity. Lenovo recognises the importance of engaging suppliers and assisting them on their sustainability journey to create a more sustainable supply chain.

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) reporting and regulation also pose obstacles to sustainability efforts. The lack of standardisation in ESG reporting and regulatory frameworks globally creates discrepancies in ESG data. Lenovo faces the challenge of navigating these differing standards to ensure accurate and comparable reporting.

Lenovo also emphasises the importance of sustainable sourcing and end-of-life product management. They acknowledge their responsibility in managing the end-of-life phase of their products, as 48% of their scope 3 emissions are attributed to product use and end-of-life management. By aligning with international standards, like the United Nations Global Compact, Lenovo demonstrates its commitment to responsible production and consumption (SDG 12).

Furthermore, Lenovo recognises the importance of education and raising awareness about the environmental impact of digital transformation. They view it as a corporate responsibility to educate individuals about sustainability in the ICT industry. Lenovo is undertaking a significant education programme to provide insights into their sustainability actions and solutions.

Transparency and data sharing are crucial for the advancement of a circular economy. Lenovo initially faced resistance in transparent data sharing projects but now observes market pressure encouraging transparency. The company believes that transparency and data sharing play a central role in achieving a circular economy.

Market pressure is increasingly driving sustainability expectations, and companies need to be competitive in this regard. RFPs (Request for Proposals) now place greater emphasis on sustainability, with sustainability accounting for 30% to 40% of the evaluation criteria. Lenovo recognises the need to adapt and incorporate sustainability practices to remain competitive.

Rapid digitalisation can provide a competitive advantage in sustainability. Companies that embrace digitalisation in their operations can accelerate their transformation towards sustainability. Lenovo understands the potential of digitalisation to create a positive impact on their sustainability goals.

Collaboration and partnerships also play a vital role in driving sustainability initiatives. Lenovo acknowledges that companies cannot achieve sustainability goals alone. More consortiums and groups of companies are coming together to collaborate and collectively address sustainability challenges.

While large corporations primarily influence Lenovo's sustainability actions, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) often lag in terms of awareness and education regarding sustainability practices. Lenovo is actively working on a sustainability procurement guide and aims to educate its customers on sustainability aspects.

In conclusion, Lenovo recognises the unavoidable and vital role of digitalisation in supply chains and their business model. They embrace digitalisation to improve efficiency, decision-making, and sustainability practices. However, challenges such as high energy consumption, supplier engagement, standardisation in ESG reporting and regulations, and the need for education and awareness remain. Lenovo is committed to addressing these challenges, aligning with international standards, and collaborating with others to create a more sustainable future.

Carolien Van Brunschot

The Circular Electronics Partnership (CEP) is a collaboration platform that brings together six influential global NGOs, including the Global Electronics Council and the Responsible Business Alliance, as well as the UN agency ITU. The aim of CEP is to drive sustainability in the electronics industry by addressing various issues related to circularity, material scarcity, and emissions reduction.

CEP recognizes that a transition to a circular economy requires collaboration and coordination among its members. The partnership works on a roadmap developed by industry members, outlining 40 actions dedicated to overcoming common barriers encountered in the industry. However, the need for collaboration and coordination is often underestimated and challenging. CEP acknowledges that everyone is locked into their own tasks, and sharing information becomes time-consuming. Coordination, therefore, becomes crucial, and a small group ends up shouldering most of the coordination responsibilities.

Education on the necessary changes is increasing, with more people becoming aware of the need for a circular economy. This understanding is seen as a positive step towards achieving sustainability goals. However, the industry acknowledges that the system required for the material and products to circulate is not yet in place. CEP has developed 12 enablers to assist companies in understanding their role in the future circular economy, but substantial transformation is still needed. The current movements towards circularity are considered small-scale and targeted.

CEP is actively working on a global circularity protocol, a project supported by Carolien Van Brunschot. This protocol aims to establish guidelines and standards for achieving circularity on a global scale. Van Brunschot emphasizes the importance of credibility and backing for the effective implementation of the protocol. As part of this effort, the partnership is including the right stakeholders to ensure its success.

One of the main challenges faced by the electronics industry in transitioning to a circular economy is the prevailing reliance on scarce materials. CEP recognizes the need to address this issue and promotes sustainable production that reduces material scarcity. Additionally, CEP sees an opportunity to reduce emissions by eliminating certain steps in the production process. By doing so, the industry can contribute to SDG 13: Climate Action.

The circular economy, according to CEP, offers significant benefits to the environment and supply chain workers. It involves a much more intentional and sustainable approach to designing products and managing resources. However, the current linear economy presents challenges to implementing circular initiatives, as systemic transformation is necessary for the successful operation of smaller pilot projects.

In conclusion, CEP brings together NGOs, industry experts, and the UN agency ITU to drive sustainability in the electronics industry. The partnership prioritizes collaboration, coordination, and education to achieve a shift towards a circular economy. While there are challenges, such as the lack of a systemic system and the reliance on scarce materials, CEP is taking steps to address these issues through its enablers, a global circularity protocol, and the involvement of the right stakeholders.

Harikrishnan Tulsidas

Harikrishnan Tulsidas is a technical advisor for UNEC and plays a significant role in sustainable resource management. He is involved in two frameworks on sustainable resource management and believes in the integration of social and economic factors. This integration is crucial for achieving SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.

The argument proposes switching to a circular or ethical value chain as a way to reduce the use of fresh materials and energy. However, the cost savings alone may not be the most compelling factor. It is suggested that opportunities from new businesses, technologies, and markets due to the shift to a circular value chain could be much larger and more attractive.

To achieve a circular value chain, the existing commodity-based value chain needs to transform into more of a resource-as-a-service model. This transition aims to enhance sustainability and responsible consumption and production. The potential benefits of this transformation are not only limited to resource savings but also include economic gains and the creation of new revenue streams.

There is a growing demand for solid materials and minerals as the world transitions from a fossil fuel-generated economy to a material-based economy. With the global population growing and urbanization increasing, the demand for gadgets and consumer products is expected to rise significantly by 2050. This will put immense pressure on resources and emphasize the need for responsible and sustainable resource management.

The existing initiatives on responsible consumption and production are viewed as fragmented and numerous, causing confusion rather than providing clear guidance. The argument suggests the need for an overarching set of principles to guide these initiatives and ensure a coordinated and effective approach.

Conflicts are expected to increase globally as resources become scarcer. UN reports predict a severe water crisis, and conflicts such as those in Ukraine and the Middle East are expected to become more prevalent if business continues as usual. These challenges highlight the urgency of sustainable resource management and the transition to a circular economy.

The pace of transitioning to a circular economy is considered too slow, and legislative processes are often time-consuming. This slow progress hinders the implementation of necessary policies and incentives to support sustainable practices. It is argued that policy-making and legislation need to be expedited to accelerate the transition process.

To effectively communicate the importance of sustainable resource management and the circular economy, it is suggested to present global issues in relatable monetary terms. The argument emphasizes that talking in terms of dollars can help convince people of the environmental and economic benefits associated with responsible resource management.

Fast action and the setting of aspirational goals are deemed crucial for achieving a better circular economy. The suggested approach involves key players from the UN, the investor community, and corporations signing into a set of overarching principles that prioritize speed and implementation.

A global agreement involving key players and setting loose principles is proposed as a means to achieve a better circular economy. The argument highlights the importance of collaboration between corporations, the investor community, and the UN in achieving sustainable resource management goals.

Partnerships with UN institutions like UNEP and the inclusion of financial institutions such as the EBRD and the World Bank, along with government and industry involvement, are crucial for achieving sustainable resource management. This multi-stakeholder approach ensures a comprehensive and systemic response to the challenges at hand.

Harikrishnan Tulsidas views the circular economy not only from a compliance perspective but also as an opportunity for industry profitability. He emphasizes collaboration between governments, industry, and financiers and suggests establishing a global protocol or set of principles to avoid conflicts of interest.

In conclusion, Harikrishnan Tulsidas advocates for sustainable resource management and the transition to a circular economy. He believes that the integration of social and economic factors is essential for achieving sustainable development goals. The arguments put forth highlight the potential benefits of a circular value chain, the challenges posed by resource scarcity, the need for coordinated initiatives and principles, the importance of expedited legislative processes, and the role of partnerships and collaboration in achieving a sustainable future.

Alessandra Antolini

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has implemented a supply chain financing product to support its clients, particularly small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) suppliers. This initiative demonstrates EBRD's commitment to promoting economic growth and decent work (SDG 8) as well as responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

In addition to supply chain financing, EBRD also focuses on firms that have sustainability Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help SMEs improve their sustainability operations. This supports the goals of climate action (SDG 13) and responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

An ongoing challenge for SME suppliers is liquidity and cash flow. EBRD recognizes this issue and provides institutional support to alleviate the problem. Through their supply chain financing product, EBRD offers early invoice payment, which improves cash flow and relieves financial pressure on SME suppliers.

Financial stability within the supply chain also paves the way for sustainability. Reduced cash flow constraints enable SME suppliers to prioritize sustainability and enhance their production practices. When SME suppliers are economically stable, they can better comply with sustainability policies and contribute to responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

Advocate Alessandra Antolini emphasizes the need for individuals to break their overconsumption habits. Antolini believes that changing consumer behavior is essential for sustainable development. Increased consumer honesty would be beneficial in advancing the sustainability agenda.

EBRD recognizes the importance of commercializing sustainability. They regularly discuss sustainability and gender policies from a commercial standpoint. Furthermore, EBRD explores various financial mechanisms, including outcome-based loans, green bonds, and social impact bonds. They understand that commercializing sustainability is crucial for responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) as well as climate action (SDG 13).

The significance of sustainability factors is increasingly hard to ignore. EBRD involves senior sustainability figures in their interactions, acknowledging the risks associated with a linear economy and unsustainable practices. This emphasizes the urgency of embracing sustainability practices.

To summarize, EBRD's supply chain financing product addresses cash flow challenges for SME suppliers, promoting financial stability within the supply chain. The bank also prioritizes sustainability KPIs to enhance sustainability operations within SMEs. Changing consumer habits and increased consumer honesty are crucial for promoting sustainability. EBRD recognizes the importance of commercializing sustainability and the growing significance of sustainability factors in today's business landscape.

Speaker 1

Sofia and Federico form part of the consulting team at DSS Plus, specializing in providing guidance and expertise to corporate clients and organizations operating within the electronics and circular economy sector. Their role involves helping companies navigate the complex landscape of sustainability and environmental practices.

At DSS Plus, Sofia and Federico offer a variety of services to their clients. They assist organizations in implementing sustainable practices throughout the product lifecycle, from design and production to disposal and recycling. Their goal is to minimize the environmental impact of electronics and promote a circular economy model, which aims to conserve resources, reduce waste, and promote recycling and repurposing of products.

The consulting team at DSS Plus stays informed about the latest trends and regulations in the electronics and circular economy field. They ensure they are up-to-date with emerging technologies and innovative solutions that can drive sustainable growth and give their clients a competitive advantage. With their deep understanding of the sector, they provide customized advice and actionable strategies that align with each client's unique goals and circumstances.

One of Sofia and Federico's key strengths is their ability to establish strong connections with corporate clients and organizations. They take the time to listen and understand their clients' needs, challenges, and aspirations. By building solid relationships and trust, they effectively collaborate and deliver practical, real-world solutions that meet and surpass expectations.

In conclusion, Sofia and Federico's expertise in electronics and circular economy consulting makes them valuable resources for companies seeking to make a positive environmental impact and transform their business practices. Through their guidance, they aim to create a sustainable future where electronics are produced responsibly, waste is minimized, and resources are efficiently utilized.

Franziska Kaiser

Franziska Kaiser, a researcher from the University of Lausanne, attended a discussion on the circular economy and provided an overview of its current state. Although not an expert in the field, Kaiser emphasized the significance of the circular economy and its potential benefits.

During the discussion, Kaiser presented the main points and arguments surrounding the concept of the circular economy. She discussed how the circular economy aims to replace the traditional linear model of production and consumption with a more sustainable approach. By promoting the reuse, recycling, and regeneration of resources, the circular economy seeks to minimize waste and reduce negative environmental impacts.

Kaiser supported her points with evidence from various studies and real-world examples. She highlighted successful initiatives that have implemented circular economy principles and have yielded positive results, such as reduced resource consumption, decreased waste generation, and increased economic benefits. Kaiser emphasized that these examples serve as proof of the potential benefits of embracing circular economy practices.

Furthermore, Kaiser noted that the circular economy is gaining traction globally, with many governments, businesses, and organizations recognizing its importance and adopting strategies to implement it. She referred to ongoing research and policy developments in the field, underscoring the growing interest and commitment to transitioning to a circular economy model.

In conclusion, Franziska Kaiser, despite not being an expert, provided a detailed overview of the current state of the circular economy. She highlighted its significance in addressing environmental concerns and promoting sustainable practices. Kaiser's presentation, supported by evidence and examples, conveyed the potential benefits of embracing circular economy principles and the increasing global interest in its implementation. Her contribution to the discussion shed light on the importance of this topic for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners alike.

Federico Magalini

The analysis of the various speakers reveals several significant points regarding sustainability and responsible consumption. Federico envisions a world where decarbonisation is supported by accessible electronic products. This indicates that the increasing accessibility of products is aiding new economies and consumers. Moreover, Federico recognises the essential role that modern technology plays in decarbonising operations.

Another important perspective shared by Federico is the need to improve the environmental and socio-economic aspects of electronic product extraction, refinery, and use. This signifies the importance of avoiding wasteful application and design while increasing recovery and keeping materials in the economic cycle. By focusing on better environmental and social practices in the electronic product lifecycle, Federico aims to reduce the negative impact on the planet.

In addition to this, Federico identifies the potential of digitalisation, especially in traceability, to contribute to sustainability efforts. By leveraging technology, it is possible to keep the benefits of extraction and manufacturing within the loop. This highlights the role of digitalisation in ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain.

The importance of consumers in the circular economy is also emphasised. Federico acknowledges the crucial role that consumers play when they make conscious decisions to buy certain products and solutions. Furthermore, consumers also have a key role in the responsible disposal and return of materials back to the value chain. This aligns with the idea that consumers have the power to drive change through their purchasing decisions and responsible practices.

Collaboration between companies is seen as vital in achieving ambitious environmental targets. The majority of environmental impacts are attributed to Scope 3 emissions, which highlights the importance of addressing the entire supply chain. By working together, companies can collectively take responsibility for their environmental impact and work towards more sustainable solutions.

It is evident that education and awareness are crucial for sustainability. Anecdotes shared by the speakers demonstrate the positive impact of education programmes that focus on understanding sustainability and its implications in various industries. With proper education and awareness, employees and organisations can develop a mindset that values sustainability and actively works towards implementing responsible practices.

However, there are challenges that hinder progress towards sustainability. The analysis identifies knowledge gaps in sustainability topics, which slows down discussions and decision-making. This implies that counterparts involved in sustainability discussions may not have sufficient knowledge, leading to sub-optimal decisions. Additionally, the analysis suggests that the current speed of implementing sustainability measures is too slow, indicating the need for greater commitment and urgency in addressing sustainability challenges.

Transitioning to a circular economy is highlighted as a challenging task for companies. This is due to the revolutionary shift required, encompassing both products and processes. The complexity of implementing circular economies requires substantial effort and change.

Notably, the analysis indicates that many private companies do not prioritise the environment. CEOs often focus on investment, cost, and revenue, neglecting the importance of environmental issues. This suggests that a more comprehensive and inclusive approach is needed to engage private companies on environmental considerations.

The urgency to address climate change and environmental issues is emphasised throughout the analysis. It is clear that time is running out, and immediate action is required to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Finally, fostering a culture that prioritises collective interests over personal ones is seen as crucial. The analysis highlights the importance of championing a 'we before I' concept, which values teamwork and collective achievements. By nurturing this culture, companies can work together towards common goals and overcome challenges more effectively.

In conclusion, the analysis of the speakers' perspectives on sustainability and responsible consumption reveals important insights. It highlights the role of accessible electronic products in supporting decarbonisation and emphasises the need for improved environmental and socio-economic practices in their lifecycle. Collaboration, education, and awareness are identified as crucial factors in driving sustainability efforts. However, challenges such as knowledge gaps, the slow speed of implementation, and the lack of prioritisation of the environment by private companies need to be addressed. Urgent action is required to address climate change and foster a culture that values collective interests. Overall, the analysis emphasises the importance of sustainability in creating a better future for all.


Alessandra Antolini

Speech speed

150 words per minute

Speech length

1015 words

Speech time

405 secs


Carolien Van Brunschot

Speech speed

160 words per minute

Speech length

1778 words

Speech time

666 secs


Federico Magalini

Speech speed

156 words per minute

Speech length

4060 words

Speech time

1564 secs


Franziska Kaiser

Speech speed

195 words per minute

Speech length

66 words

Speech time

20 secs


Harikrishnan Tulsidas

Speech speed

134 words per minute

Speech length

2364 words

Speech time

1055 secs


Speaker 1

Speech speed

132 words per minute

Speech length

31 words

Speech time

14 secs


Speaker 2

Speech speed

153 words per minute

Speech length

571 words

Speech time

224 secs


Virginie Le Barbu

Speech speed

163 words per minute

Speech length

1757 words

Speech time

646 secs