Goodbye from the outgoing CEP Secretariat Lead

CEP Secretariat
May 16, 2024
4 min read

That’s a wrap for me folks!

Today marks my last day as the Secretariat Lead of CEP. It seems like such a short time ago that we started working on the topic and at the same time I can’t remember ever having lived without it!

Remember? The days we went to work every day in the same office. We had our own desks and saw the same people every day, come in at the same time and leave to something that was called “a life after work” back in the days. I was speaking to a young professional the other day who was visibly shocked, and somewhat repulsed, with the idea of traveling every morning to sit at the same desk five days a week.

I wonder sometimes if CEP would have ever existed without COVID-19 providing the opportunity for it. Just at the right time, after a memorable, what seemed to be a last-ever in-person industry meeting in the WBCSD office in Geneva, where the first Covid case was identified that same day. Everyone suddenly working from their homes, scattered across the globe, feeling virtually connected through the cause, building a vision towards electronics circularity from their own attics, kitchen tables and kids’ bedrooms (we remember you, Brendan). It was a special time that created the remarkable conditions for the Circular Electronics Roadmap to be co-developed by the community, led by the partner organizations in a collaboration project that was neither fully on the books nor ever done before that way. But hey, everything felt different in 2020, so this didn’t even seem to feel that much out of place.

It is hard to realize sometimes, being so focused on the monumental task of building a circular economy ahead of us, where we came from and what has already been done and achieved since we started working on the agenda. In reality, five years ago one of the key barriers we saw to circularity was the exact shared definition of “recycled content”. Back then nobody mentioned Scope 3 emissions or decarbonization yet in the context of the business case for circularity and (admit it!) we all had a mental picture of a passport when talking about what we now see as required data exchange throughout the circular value chain.

We can get lost, in how the here and now is not yet what we want it to be. But make no mistake, five years ago circular design was largely focused on manual disassembly for recycling, guidance for institutional circular procurement was nonexistent, circularity measurement methodologies were still being developed and tested, collection was largely an EPR issue, there was no sign of the parties seeing any issue with the PIC procedure, and right to repair regulation was still very conceptual and niche. CEP does not carry direct responsibility for many of the developments since then, but what is undeniable is that our world is shifting. No company, Internal Organization or NGO can drive progress on its own. We all play our part. This is why I am convinced collaboration and coordination are more essential than ever for real progress.

This brings me to what will stick with me most from the past years: the engagement, incredible knowledge, expertise, openness, positivity, and warmth that I have been shown by everyone I have worked with in this role. Partners, members, alliance partners, and everyone on all the shared panels and whom I met during the numerous events. You are all so nice! It is a warm reminder that industry in the end is made of people who generally all have a heart for what they think is best for their companies and society at large.

It was such a pleasure to be at the heart of a committed group of people and I want to thank you all for allowing me to give my best in shaping CEP in the way that I have envisioned it will benefit us all. I couldn’t be more excited to see how it will grow from here under Dan’s leadership with Raly’s relentless and priceless support. I hope you can all continue to show them the kindness and trust that you have given me on this journey.

End of my CEP love letter. Until we meet again.

Big hug, Carolien