Feature: Making the channel green

Marcus Harvey, general manager and EMEA sales director at Targus explains why GRS is important to tech companies.

 The Global Recycle Standard (GRS) is a globally recognised standard for recycled materials – a voluntary set of requirements to demonstrate recycled content in a host of materials.

Why is GRS important for tech accessories?

With businesses and individuals replacing tech devices such as laptops every few years, it’s essential that providers take a more mindful approach to developing devices. Technology should be thought of in terms of a circular economy model, whereby items and materials are thoughtfully used and then recycled and reformed to be used again. A tech device is a major purchase, so the accessories consumers and businesses choose to go with it are just as important. By ensuring these products are made from responsible materials that will last as long as possible, customers will be encouraged to buy smart and buy once, making this sector more sustainable than ever.

How is Targus proving that its efforts are not just ‘greenwash’?

Authenticity and transparency are top of Targus’ agenda when communicating sustainability efforts, and our recent 2023 Global Sustainability Report is a testament to this. The report demonstrates tangible change and allows us to own up to our areas for improvement, as well as our successes. In addition, Targus has recently achieved bronze in EcoVadis, the world’s largest and most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings.

More than ever, channel partners are focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability goals and laws, creating a mutually beneficial culture of accountability. We’ve opened up our business to inspection, and with the goal post moving around rapidly, we’ve had to be transparent about environmental, social, and governance (ESG) credentials. We also go above and beyond to enforce stringent ESG supplier policies and regular factory audits, ensuring integrity and accountability at every level.”

How does this affect channel partners?

Looking at public sector procurement, channel partners must demonstrate they are providing sustainable products. When it comes to driving the sustainability agenda in the channel, areas such as Scandinavia are ahead of the rest of Europe. However, one thing that rings true is that the channel is aware that it needs to do better and demonstrate that ESG is a key goal and focus area. It is catching up but at a pace – and the sustainability dynamic relationship in which one organisation pushes another, proves that businesses are encouraging each other to do better in this space.

What barriers are there in the world of tech accessories to true sustainability? How can they be overcome?

The barriers include the complexity and number of materials that go into a piece of technology as well as the inclusion of heavy metals in some tech products which make safe disposal logistically difficult. The solution is to reuse, repair, and recycle, whilst always carefully considering the design of the product. With longer life cycles, tech accessories will be compatible with generations of devices across various makes and models. When it comes to short product lifecycle for tech, particularly in B2B, the solution is giving products a second life by ensuring the products are repairable before being replaceable. In the soft cases sector, the enemy is fast fashion and tightened budgets. The solution to this is educating consumers about the environmental and economic benefits of buying quality and buying once.

What are the current trends in sustainable tech accessories?

The smarter the tech gets, the smarter it’s energy usage and lifecycle can be. This can be seen with our Energy Harvesting EcoSmart Keyboard, which combines advanced energy harvesting solar technology with post-consumer recycled materials. The concept is to work smarter, and not harder. Companies can be eco-conscious while also saving business costs; this applies to technology such as the Energy Harvesting EcoSmart Keyboard and smart sensors for desks, which automate energy usage. For example, if a hot-desk has been abandoned but monitors, keyboards and mice left on, a system like Targus’s Miralogic Workspace Intelligence System could automatically power down the tech when not in use.

Additionally, laptop backpacks that come with lifetime warranties discourage fast fashion. A testament to the quality of Targus bags, is that less than one percent of customers claim on warranty because the products last. Essentially, all accessories should have more thought put into them so they can last as long as needed.

How will sustainable tech accessories evolve over the next twelve months?

In terms of laptop bags and tech protection, what was once ground-breaking is now becoming a default in many places. We’ll see more recycled fabrics as this becomes ‘table stakes’ for consumers. Across the board, we’re expecting to see more take-back programmes and a bigger focus on product end-of-life.

Tech is on a catch-up mission having fallen behind other industries. However, with the development of smarter technologies and more thoughtful approaches to circularity, we’re now seeing companies move much faster in this space. Sustainability concerns are becoming powerful enough to become real drivers of innovation, bringing sustainability and efficiency together. A unique opportunity to streamline modern business, while doing better for the planet.

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