25 Oct 2017 | 09.39 am
Wisetek Cited As Circular Economy Examplar
NESC report looks at sustainable Irish business practices
25 Oct 2017 | 09.39 am
Ireland is gaining momentum in practising circular economy activities, where best use is made of products before they are efficiently recycled, but more action is needed to build on this initial progress.
That’s the verdict delivered by the National Economic and Social Council, which has published a report Moving Towards the Circular Economy in Ireland.
The report highlights some of the leaders in the Irish circular economy, whose products and services keep resources in use for longer, extract the maximum value from them and recover products and materials.
The report includes ten case studies of businesses and social enterprises. The research highlights the opportunities available for businesses and social enterprises, while drawing attention to the regulatory and social challenges in facilitating the transition to a circular economy.
NESC concludes that the full potential of the circular economy in Ireland has yet to be realised. It suggests that strong central policy support is required to embed the circular economy into national policy priorities. Among the case studies presented in the report are:
- Wisetek, the Cork-based company that reconditions and remanufactures IT equipment through the Wisetek Market, reducing what goes to landfill and creating income. The company employs nearly 200 people.
- Ecocem produces low carbon cement and employs 30 people in Ireland, the Netherlands and France, with import facilities in the UK and Sweden. Ecocem upcycles materials that would otherwise go to landfill.
- Boomerang Enterprises is a social enterprise based in Cork that disassembles and recycles mattresses in order to divert for re-use and/or recycling. It has diverted over 7,000 mattresses from landfill to date.
- Exergyn, based in Dublin, has been developing a technology for converting the low-grade waste heat available in hot water into energy (electricity or motive power). It employs 15 staff.
- Perch and Orangebox. Perch is a Dublin-based product design company that specialises in furniture design with particular strengths in research-led and applied human movement. Still at an early stage in relation to circular design, the business is working with larger manufacturing companies in Ireland that are among the leaders in design for the circular economy, such as Orangebox.
- Go Car is a car-sharing company that began as a pilot in 2008 in Cork but now has 190 cars in Dublin and Cork. Dublin City Council allows Go Cars to park free of charge in a range of locations.
In 2016, NESC commissioned Dr Simon O’Rafferty to conduct a research project on the circular economy in Ireland. O’Rafferty identified a handful of businesses as circular economy exemplars, including Wisetek in Cork, which specialises in responsible recycling services for enterprise IT systems.
The company was founded in 2007 by Sean Sheehan (pictured). The financial incentive, which forms part of the Wisetek offering, is that OEMs and other clients can reduce their physical storage and data destruction costs while also complying with global WEEE regulations.
Wisetek’s clients include Dell EMC, McAfee and VCE Tyco. According to O’Rafferty: “Wisetek are broadly facilitating the transition to the circular economy by ensuring the diversion of useable IT equipment from landfill while providing income for both the company and other organisations across the IT value chain. Aside from facilitating direct reuse of components, a key feature of the Wisetek business model is that they resell reconditioned and remanufactured IT equipment through their Wisetek Market.”
The company employs almost 200 people and has facilities in the US and Thailand. O’Rafferty notes that the increase in data centres has delivered more business to Wisetek. “Because of the rapid advancements in server performance, they tend to be upgraded or refreshed regularly,” he says. “These servers are often bespoke and this means that only core components need to be replaced. This means that racks, server cases and other longer lasting components can be reused.”
Sheehan, an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, previously worked as a senior manager with EMC, where he managed part of EMC’s WEEE and asset recovery system. The company board includes former Intel Ireland general manager Jim O’Hara, ex-senior VP at EMC Dick Lehane and former Bord Gais CEO John Mullins.
O’Rafferty concludes: “Some of the key challenges identified during the research were the rapidly changing technologies, sector leaders and shifting regulatory landscape. It is fair to suggest that the global WEEE regulation provided the context that allowed Wisetek to grow and it is hoped that this regulatory context will continue.”