11 May 2023

Cradlenet's Elin Bergman to give inspiring talk on consumer tech and the circular economy at IFA 2023

Cradlenet Chief Operating Officer Elin Bergman is also known as the “Circular Economy Queen” of Sweden

Cradlenet’s vision is that Sweden has a circular economy in place by 2035 at the latest, as a prerequisite for reaching the national climate goal for 2045. COO Ms Bergman recently sat down with IFA News to reveal why the consumer tech industry must embrace the circular economy and reap its sustainable rewards.

Can you start by telling us a little bit about Cradlenet and your role in promoting the circular economy for consumer tech?

Cradlenet is a network for businesses with the mission to speed up the circular transition in Sweden, by knowledge transfer and education about circular economy. 

For example, we have weekly meetings for our members we call Circular Fridays, where we first inform about the latest that has happened in Sweden and the rest of the world regarding the circular economy, and then we have a presenter that gives a lecture about something circular, it can be a researcher, expert or one of our members themselves who tells how they work circular or a circular project or report they have done. 

In addition to this, we organise a lot of external events, introductory trainings and other things, we also have a Circular Hotline where our members can contact if they need support and help with their circular conversion and then we run a lot of circular projects and write reports where we sees that there are knowledge gaps to cover. 

In 2018, I also co-founded the Nordic collaboration platform Nordic Circular Hotspot, which aims to ensure that we collaborate better across national borders in the region. 

In both organisations we have many IT and tech companies as members, and they are members because they want to keep up to date with everything that is happening in the circular economy and also get the word out how they are working on these issues. We help them with both. 

What do you see as the main challenges in creating a circular economy for consumer tech, and how is Cradlenet addressing these challenges?

Our take on the subject is that tech producers and retailers must make it impossible for consumers to make unsustainable choices. 

The consumers have so many other things to think about in their lives, and it is impossible to demand of them to be and act as informed customers. The industry has to do it for them and they should compete on how to become the most sustainable and circular choice.  

How do you envision the future of consumer tech and the circular economy, and what steps need to be taken to make this a reality?

I think people will look a lot at what needs they have, instead of what tech they need to own. There will be many more flexible service solutions that are quickly adaptable for people that can quickly change. 

There will also be a big focus on environmental sustainability and being able to measure it in real time. AI will probably also affect peoples and companies’ IT management enormously in the coming years and it will be a lot of “trial and error” before we have understood how to use it in the best way. 

As for hardware, its development will slow down and much greater focus will be placed on software solutions. The existing hardware will therefore have to be of much higher quality than before and designed to be able to be upgraded and repaired much more than before. All products, materials and components will be traceable and transparent through product passports and of course they will also be circular.

How does the circular economy approach benefit not only the environment but also the economy and society as a whole?

In an economy where the price of materials and components keep rising it is just smart to start acting more resource efficient. It will not only save you money and strengthen your brand, but also make you a more attractive employer. 

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