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BSI Kitemark certification for Circular Computing remanufacturing process is ‘the start of something really big’

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Carbon-neutral laptop remanufacturing specialist Circular Computing is hoping to remove any concerns around the use of remanufactured devices after becoming the first company to be awarded BSI Kitemark certification for its Circular Remanufacturing Process. 

Martin Townsend, Global Head of Sustainability and the Circular Economy at the British Standards Institute (BSI), said: “Circular Computing is the first organisation to receive a Kitemark for remanufacturing where the products that come from the process are equal to or better than new. This is a great moment for the industry and great leadership from Circular Computing in terms of demonstrating what can be done.” 

Circular Computing Founder Rod Neale hopes that BSI Kitemark certification will help create a new category of product, the first real alternative to new, for businesses that demand the highest quality, consistency and certainty. 

Interviewed by Panorama’s Adam Shaw at Circular Computing’s online event, Sustainable Tech: The Future Reimagined, he said: “We have zero compromise with our product. We stand on the platform of equal to or better than new – our products are exactly the same as the main original equipment manufacturers’ in terms of representation, quality, channel.”
Circular Computing claims its products, now distributed by Ingram Micro, offer 97% of the performance of equivalent new laptop models, up to 40% savings on cost compared to equivalent new models, an RMA (return to manufacturer) rate of less than 3%, and up to a 3-year next day replacement warranty. 

Capturing value 

This announcement, timed to coincide with the start of COP26, clearly strengthens Circular Computing’s appeal at a time when more organisations than ever have committed to reduce their environmental impact. 

Neale points out that such initiatives should include a commitment to break the three-year replacement cycle that has dominated IT procurement for so long and which is incompatible with a transition to net zero that will require us to cut our use of materials by 50% by 2050. 

“I think that sustainability is becoming more important in all walks of life and to take something and then three years later lose the value in that product is ridiculous. What Circular Computing is bringing is a legitimised channel for a product that has been reused and in doing that we capture the value for a much longer period,” he said. 

So, too, do refurbishers of used equipment. However, Neale argues that there is a qualitative difference between refurbished and remanufactured devices and the processes used to produce them. 

“Both refurbishment and remanufacturing have important roles to play,” he said. “But refurbish is a quick route to capitalising on a product, while remanufacturing is how to deliver a product back into the supply chain at a level that is more aligned with what the customer expects around new. Doing it properly means building a completely dedicated facility and doing hundreds of mini R&D projects to work out how to get a like new product at every step. This became our 360-step circular remanufacturing process, which takes an average of between 5 and 8 hours per laptop.” 

This process allows Circular Computing to create thousands of laptops at a time to the exact same standard, unlike refurbished devices, which tend to be graded. 

Circular Computing CEO Scott Mac Meekin added that this consistency gives buyers confidence that the company’s products will deliver exactly what they expect, like new ones, but with a lower environmental impact. 

He said: “This is a complete distinction in terms of authenticity. There has always been new and there has always been refurb, but refurb has a series of conditions, conditionality around it. 

We have built a product that has no conditions; it is zero-compromise, and that quality has allowed us to open up a secondary equipment manufacturer space. This is a space between new and a space between refurb where only remanufacturing exists. The Kitemark assures customers that our remanufactured products are absolutely equal to or better than new.  Not only the product but also the warranty post-production. 

“Being first to achieve such a thing is a proud moment for us and our team. What we are really doing here is setting the standard that the rest of industry will try to follow. As of today, we have anchored firmly the distinction between new and refurbed; there is this gap in the middle and we
are filling that gap. This is the start of something really big and really important.” 

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