Home appliances are meant to make work easier, but once they are discarded, they now make up about 60 percent of the electronic waste worldwide. This waste is harming the environment with toxins like lead and mercury, and the valuable metals they contain are simply squandered in landfill.
One exemplary leader seeking to change this scenario is Versuni, a global company that produces home appliances for sustainable contemporary living. While most products today are still designed for the linear model which takes materials from the Earth to make products that are eventually discarded as waste, in Versuni’s circular model, no waste is produced to begin with.
That’s because Versuni adheres to all three circular economy design principles: eliminate waste, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature.
“With our EcoDesign principles, we are continuously embedding circular principles in our innovation process and product development to become more energy efficient, reduce hazardous substances, and reuse materials,” said Alexandre Escorel, President Versuni Latin America.
Speaking at the recent SAP Sapphire event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Escorel went on to explain that the company has just initiated a pilot project at its appliance factory in Varginha, Brazil.
It involves the Versuni Airfryer, a cooking appliance similar to a convection oven, that can automatically adjust cooking time, temperature, and air speed, while also sensing and accommodating to personal preferences through machine learning. It also provides over 500 recipes through the company’s NutriU app. The goal of the project is to make the appliance a fully circular product.
Manufacturing and distributing home appliances is a very energy intensive business. Component materials have the most impact on a product in terms of processing and extraction. Design plays a fundamental role in getting more out of materials and resources.
“We can really go end to end,” said Escorel. “On one hand, we have our supply team managing all the components, which are almost 100% recyclable and sourced from certified suppliers of metal and plastic. On the other, we have the production side making sure our energy is one hundred percent renewable. We don’t send any waste back into to the landscape. That’s what makes us carbon neutral.”
A key part of the design process is establishing the origin of the materials used in the appliances. As part of the pilot project, Versuni has formed strategic partnerships with Brazilian suppliers that produce certified recycled plastic and metals that can be reinserted in the production chain as raw materials. Thanks to this engagement, only 1.24% of the materials used in the Airfryer are not recyclable.
The product is also designed for long-term use and comes with a two-year guarantee. When it does reach the end of its lifecycle, it can be repaired, reused or returned to the manufacturer. Customers who return their old appliance to a specified collection point get a discount of about $40 to buy a new Connected Philips Walita Airfryer.
“We completely dismantle the used appliances at the factory,” Escorel explained. “Components that can be recycled are reinserted in the production chain as raw material. The tiny remainder is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.”
The company is pioneering SAP’s green ledger approach to manage its transactional carbon accounting and comply with regulations. The green ledger lets companies manage sustainable business data bottom-up with actual data on a transactional level rather than using estimates or averages.
For monitoring metrics, the company is piloting SAP Sustainability Control Tower, a cloud application that gathers environmental, social and governance (ESG) data from ERP and HR systems and prepares it for auditing. The application was recently updated to include more pre-configured content addressing new ESG regulations that are coming in the U.S. and Europe and to improve integration with SAP S/4HANA and other SAP and non-SAP systems through APIs.
The SAP Sustainability Control Tower enables Versuni to embed sustainability in its core processes and deal with the rapidly changing nature of the regulatory landscape. “We define the KPIs and do all the management and maintenance through defined dashboards that enable us to deliver green reports along with financial reports throughout the organization,” said Escorel. “We wouldn’t be so advanced if it weren’t for the partnership with SAP, especially when it comes to monitoring the supply chain throughout the entire circular process.”
Versuni’s mission is turning houses into homes with appliances that make work easier. These basic needs are reflected in the company name which puts a spin on two words universe and universal, both implying that everyone needs their own home in this world.
Although Versuni’s supply chain is almost completely circular, Escorel acknowledges that there is still some way to go before consumers embrace conscious consumption. “We are trying to change the perception of waste,” he said. “Turning waste into new products is how we avoid further exploitation of raw materials. The best way to get that across is by delivering quality goods. Quality may cost more, but it lasts longer. People are starting to realize how that cycle works when they get a discount when returning a used appliance to buy a new one.”
After completing the pilot in Brazil, Versuni intends to establish a reference in Latin America and expand the design and use of the SAP Sustainability Control Tower to other markets. Headquartered in Amsterdam, Versuni, formerly known as Philips Domestic Appliances, has innovation, manufacturing and commercial centers around the world, with a presence in over 100 countries. The project was carried out through Rise with SAP, the multinational’s initiative to accelerate the migration of customers to the cloud.
But for Escorel, the most important part of the project is sharing the story with customers. “People are curious to know what we are doing to make the world a better place,” he said. “We are creating a circular economy for electronics by creating products can be repaired and reused through numerous iterations in the production cycle.”
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