CEF Spotlight

A Unique Opportunity to Join the Circular Movement

By Trisa Thompson, VP, Corporate Responsibility & Talent and Capabilities, Dell 

It’s Monday, and it’s already been a big week. The UN formally unveiled their Sustainable Development Goals. The Pope continues to press climate change as his number one priority. And the 2016 Circular Economy Awards are in full swing. 

Circular economy” “cradle to cradle” – call it what you want. The fact is, a future of finite resources and more demands requires a rethink of business as usual, and the companies applying circular thinking to their business models NOW will be best positioned to win, and will help pave the way for others for necessary change.

One of our favorite examples of circular thinking is Ecovative, a biomaterials company using living organisms, including fungi such as mushrooms, to develop high performance, natural biocomposite materials. Evocative’s sustainable material platform is helping companies replace materials from plastic foams to particleboards that end up in landfills with environmentally responsible alternatives. They worked with Dell to create an organic, mushroom based alternative to Styrofoam for our heavier, Server products.

Another unique approach comes from Innoverne, a technology-driven startup that delivers circular commerce and closed-loop solutions for the automotive sector. Innoverne’s solutions reduce the cost of financing automotive tools and equipment by maximizing the smallest possible number of assets. As a result, asset inventories have been reduced by 97 percent and freight logistics by 80 percent.

At Dell, we know that technology will play a unique role in helping shift the world to a more circular model. Creating technology solutions that minimize resource use, enable smarter management of resources, and allow for new, sustainable business models is critical. We also know the transition is impossible without collaboration and support for entrepreneurs bringing new solutions to market. That’s why I have personally enlisted as a judge for the Entrepreneur category of the 2016 Circular Economy Awards.

The Circular Awards recognizes individuals and businesses from commerce and civil society across the globe that have made a notable contribution to driving circular economy principles – where growth doesn’t depend on the use of scarce natural resources.

Dell was honored to accept Accenture’s “Circular Economy Pioneer” award in the inaugural 2015 challenge for our closed-loop plastics supply chain. The recognition not only validated our strategy, but it motivated our teams internally to continue pushing for smarter, more efficient ways to do business and help customers. Since receiving the award, we’ve recycled 4.2 million pounds of e-waste plastics into 34 new Dell products offered globally, and this week we’re announcing a new partnership with SABIC to use recycled carbon fiber that will prevent approximately 820,000 pounds of material from reaching landfill. This work makes our teams incredibly proud. It also saves the business money while offering tremendous community and environmental benefits. Why wouldn’t you want to join this movement?

I’m thrilled to see The Circulars further expand globally this year to recognize a broader set of circular thinkers. We know there are many out there doing transformational work. I encourage you to put forward your ideas for consideration and make yourself known. The application deadline is September 30th. I look forward to reviewing your work!


Thompson, Trisa
Trisa Thompson is the VP of Corporate Responsibility & Talent and Capabilities at Dell, with responsibility for Dell’s global philanthropy and sustainability. Prior to this role, Trisa was a Vice President in Dell’s Legal Department for 12 years. Outside of the office, Trisa currently serves on the boards of I Live Here, I Give Here, an Austin organization promoting philanthropy in Austin, and Lifeworks. Trisa also serves on the Emeritus Advisory Board for Law and Technology News and is a member of the Global Giving and Sustainability Councils at Dell.

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