STOCKHOLM—Together with Stena Recycling, Electrolux has developed a vacuum cleaner made of 100 percent recycled and reused materials. The plastic and components originate from consumers’ electronic products, such as used hairdryers, vacuum cleaners, and computers. The project addresses some of today’s key recycling challenges while exploring circularity in household appliances.
More than 400 million metric tons of plastic are produced globally every year, but less than 12 percent of this comes from recycled materials. Therefore, manufacturers have difficulty finding enough safe and consistently high-quality recycled material. As a pioneer, Electrolux was first in the industry in 2010 to raise awareness about the global shortage of recycled plastics through the Vac from the Sea project. The volume of products containing recycled material has since increased across the industry but remain at low levels.
To step up the pace, Electrolux is partnering with Stena Recycling in the collaboration Circular Initiative. The goal is to learn more about how to make the market for recycled plastics function as well as for virgin materials. The first concrete result is a visionary vacuum cleaner made of 100 percent recycled plastic and reused components from electronic consumer products. The prototype is developed to explore circularity in household appliances.
“We at Electrolux have a strong commitment to reduce our climate impact by 2030 and circularity is a key dimension of this. The partnership with Stena Recycling is one of the important initiatives we engage in to push ourselves and the industry forward through knowledge sharing and innovation. We want to support consumers in making sustainable choices, and to succeed we need a solid approach to circularity,” says Jonas Samuelson, CEO at Electrolux.
Toward Becoming More Circular
Henrik Sundström, Head of Sustainability at Electrolux, adds: “This project has highlighted many of the considerations we take into account as we seek to become more circular. From product design and material use to new business models, there are regulatory requirements as well as quality and safety questions that need to be addressed. We have to strike a good balance in increasing the amount of reused and recycled materials when making products that are optimized for further recycling at the end of life.”
The material from used products such as hair dryers, vacuum cleaners and computers originates from Nordic households. The focus on consumer products has enabled the project to study the lifespan of the recycled products and components to gain insights about consumer recycling behaviors and attitudes.
“The Swedish industry has all the right conditions to become a pioneer in circular flows. We have the know-how, we have the technically advanced processing plants needed, and we have companies willing to take the lead in circular production. I am proud of what we have achieved together in the partnership with Electrolux. It is a crucial step towards a future where circular materials will play a significant role in manufacturing. Through the Circular Initiative we provide our expertise when collaborating with our partners to create world leading circular solutions,” says Kristofer Sundsgård, CEO at Stena Recycling.
By 2030 all Electrolux product ranges will contain at least 50 percent recycled materials. On the journey towards circularity, the learnings from developing the prototype will provide important knowledge for Electrolux future innovation.
Stena Recycling collects discarded electronic consumer products and breaks them down into raw materials for new products or for energy recovery. Read more about the Circular Initiative here.
The prototype vacuum cleaner is an action within the Electrolux Better Living Program, a plan to enable better and more sustainable living for consumers around the world through 2030.