Lenovo commits to end-to-end product circular economy

Credit: Getty | Lenovo builds circular economic principles into its electronics supply chain
Mary Jacques, Lenovo’s Executive Director, Global ESG and Regulatory Compliance, shares a Q&A on the sustainability of packaging and corporate commitment

Mary Jacques is at the helm of Lenovo's corporate division overseeing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives and ensuring regulatory compliance. Her role merges her technical expertise with her enthusiasm for ESG, allowing her to spearhead projects in this realm. Jacques takes great pride in her contributions to impactful changes, notably in areas like ambitious climate change mitigation, fostering a circular economy through incorporating recycled materials in Lenovo's products and packaging, and guiding emerging technical professionals.

Jacques' professional journey began in engineering with IBM’s Corporate Environmental Affairs in their Engineering Center for Environmentally Conscious Products. She later assumed the role of Environmental, Health, and Safety Risk Manager at MIT, prior to her move to Lenovo in 2006. A consistent theme throughout her career has been her dedication to fostering more sustainable organisations.

Credit: Lenovo | Mary Jacques Executive Director, Global ESG and Regulatory Compliance at Lenovo

What does sustainable design mean, and what does that journey look like for companies like Lenovo?

Sustainable design is all about reducing product carbon footprints, driving circular materials usage, and taking sustainability into account by using innovation to continually improve when developing products and services.

Lenovo is an industry leader in using post-consumer recycled content (PCC) plastics and closed loop PCC (PCC sourced from end-of-life IT and electronics equipment) in the manufacturing of devices and accessories. In fact, by FY 2025/26, we will use 300 million pounds of post-consumer recycled content plastics in our products, with 100% of our PC products containing post-consumer recycled content materials. As of FY 22/23, 298 Lenovo products are made with closed-loop PCC recycled materials. Of note, we collaborated with Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation to develop a PC adapter with an industry-leading 90% PCC.

Our product take-back programmes make it easy for many customers around the world to recycle their old devices, batteries, and packaging. We sustain demand for recycled electronics by using closed-loop PCC in our own products.

How does sustainability play a key part in packaging?

The key to creating greener packaging is increasing the use of recycled and recyclable materials, reducing the size, and expanding the use of bulk and reusable solutions.

At Lenovo, by 2025, we will use recycled materials to produce 90% of plastic packaging for our PC products and 60% of smartphone packaging, as well as introducing plastic-free packaging. We will produce 100% of smartphone products and accessories free of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs), while using 50% less single-use plastics and reducing the size/volume in our smartphone packaging by 10%.

It’s innovations like these that make packaging more sustainable and help support our customers sustainability goals.

How is Lenovo committed to end-to-end sustainability?

Recycling plays a key role in our sustainability journey, and we have so far used more than 130 million pounds of net recycled plastic and 18 million pounds of closed-loop recycled content in our products and packaging. However, end-to-end sustainability involves much more than this and includes the whole business across devices, data centre solutions as well as services.

For example, to support our vision to achieve net-zero by 2050, Lenovo ISG is designing solutions to promote energy efficiency for our products and our customers. Innovations such as Neptune Liquid Cooling Solution, a direct water-cooling solution, recycles loops of warm water to cool data centre systems. It enables customers to realise up to a 40% reduction in power consumption and a 3.5x improvement in thermal efficiencies compared to traditional air-cooled systems. Additionally, Lenovo Value Recovery is a sustainability service that helps to reduce e-waste and enables the purchase of refurbished and recertified enterprise hardware at an affordable price, ensuring we help customers end-to-end on their sustainability journey.

In FY 2022/23, we increased participation in the circular economy, integrating closed-loop post-consumer recycled content into 50 more product lines, resulting in a total of nearly 300 (298) products including this content, which is recycled from end-of-life IT equipment.

What tips do you have for businesses looking to embed sustainability into design practices, both in terms of product, packaging and partnerships?

When it comes to improving sustainability within the business, companies need to look at the whole organisation. For example, at Lenovo we don’t just look at PC products such as ThinkPads but also the design of our servers which by FY 2029/30, we will achieve 50% improvement in energy efficiency. 

Additionally, it’s important to think about how businesses can maintain sustainability even after the products and services have been purchased. At Lenovo our Solutions and Services Group (SSG) binds our business together. As part of this the team provides sustainability services after devices have been bought. And by 2025, we will enable the recycling and reuse of 363 million kilogrammes of end-of-life products and ensure 76% of repairable PC parts returned to our service centres will be repaired for future use.

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