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What is post-industrial recycled (PIR)?

In 2023, many technology companies are keen to tout their eco-friendly chops. One initiative involves using post-industrial recycled materials. Here’s our simple explanation of exactly what that is.

We live in a world that is much more mindful when it comes to sustainability and eco-friendly practices than in the past. Technology companies are no different, and many use recycled materials in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint.

There are many practices that companies can engage in to enhance their sustainability credentials, such as investing in clean energy, thoughtfully considering their carbon footprint and more. For post-industrial recycled (PIR) materials, it’s a sustainability practice that beings directly in the product manufacturing process. Read on for all you need to know.

What is post-industrial recycled (PIR)?

The term post-industrial recycled (often shortened to PIR) refers to materials created from waste generated during the source material manufacturing process. This process prevents waste and finds a sustainable way of utilising it by reentering it into the manufacturing cycle. Post-industrial is also sometimes referred to as pre-consumer.

Post-industrial recycled materials aren’t limited to technology manufacturers but some have embraced the practice. For example, Asus and Lenovo use post-industrial recycled metal within some of their products – including its flagship Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023) laptop that features both PIR aluminium and a PIR recycled magnesium-aluminium alloy.

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These processes prevent hundreds of millions of tons of material going to landfill (via Recycling Revolution), instead finding them a home in technology. As such the environmental benefit is clear and it’s a positive move for sustainability to see these technology manufacturers including these materials in their products.

However, it is worth bearing in mind the wider context of a company’s environmental footprint as utilising PIR in one, two or, even, a range of products may not make up for a company’s overall impact on the Earth. Certifications such as those from EPEAT and Energy Star as well as adherence to global standards like RoHS aid in providing information on this key context.

What is the difference between post-industrial and post-consumer recycled?

In the world of technology, you’ll often see companies like Asus, Lenovo, Framework and Acer also use the term post-consumer recycled (PCR), often on products that also use post-industrial recycled materials, like the Zenbook S 13 OLED which uses both. This term represents something different to PIR and, as the name suggests, refers to what is done with the materials after consumer usage. So, think consumer recycled plastics like bottles, cans and more. Devices in Acer’s Vero range use PCR materials throughout.

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