Eco Voice Q & A: Tim de Ridder, Head of Social & Environmental Sustainability at COMSOL

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Tim de Ridder is a sustainability specialist adept in the intricacies of circular economy principles, zero-waste methodologies, sustainable development goals, carbon markets, community advancement and social transformation. Tim has proven experience in fostering business and project expansion, including amplifying market presence, complemented by a comprehensive skill set in education, stakeholder engagement, and dynamic marketing strategies.

His skills have been cultivated through hands-on experiences spanning diverse locations, encompassing Australia, Malaysia, Cambodia and India. Tim is also the co-author of India’s first zero-waste book, Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero-Waste Life, creator of a UNESCO Green Citizen recognised online education content, Zero Waste Living 101, and has developed and run dozens of workshops and talks on sustainability and circular economy topics. He is most recently the creator of Closing The E-Loop, a first-of-its-kind resource that addresses the e-waste crisis by providing engaging and informative solutions via teaching content and a portfolio of Sustainable Electronics Solutions interviews.

In conjunction with World Business Forum: Green Impact in Sydney, 11th & 12th October 2023, Tim Langdon, publisher of Eco Voice, had the pleasure of facilitating a Q & A with Tim de Ridder: Head of Social & Environmental Sustainability at COMSOL:

Q1 . What is COMSOL focused on when it comes to sustainability?

COMSOL’s transition to embed a sustainability mindset in the business began with a focus on packaging. This initial focus saw the transition from single use, hard to recycle plastic packaging, such as blister packs, to cardboard alternatives. The next stage of our step-by-step process was to create a portfolio of cables using recycled plastic. This material is certified under the Global Recycled Standard and reduces the use of virgin polymer from fossil fuel sources. Throughout this process there has been a goal to educate and create positive impact to reduce product and packaging related e-waste.

This focus led to the development of Closing The E-Loop, a first-of-its-kind resource that provides a range of solutions to address the e-waste crisis. The initiative has seen the team partner with an online education platform, COOL.ORG (formerly Cool Australia), in the development of an online educational resource. The portfolio contains 10 teacher lesson plans, designed for Year 9/10 Geography and Design & Technology (six and four units respectively), with additional content including our Sustainable Electronics Solutions video showcase. This content brought together 38 industry experts from across the supply chain, representing 35 unique organisations, in the development of 36 engaging and informative interviews that provide viewers with a toolkit of knowledge about how to address the e-waste crisis.

Q2. What is E-Waste and how is COMSOL closing the E-Waste loop? 

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a growing issue globally. It is a broad term but succinctly refers to any electrical or electronic equipment that will end in landfill and/or the environment. In this state the material resources in the products cannot be reused and is a common representation of the linear model, often referred to as the take-make-waste method, that much of society operates in. E-waste is estimated to grow from 53 Mega tonnes in 2021 to a mind-boggling 74 Mega tonnes by 2030.

We developed Closing The E-Loop to address these issues by sharing knowledge about how to accelerate a circular economy, which is an alternative model to the linear. It essentially means that resources from a product will not be wasted, instead they will be reused in a new product. Our team identified that through education and collaboration we were able to make impact, both by providing resources to teachers and to create a portfolio of engaging video content, our Sustainable Electronics Solutions, that is relevant for high schoolers, university students and adults alike. Enabling change at work, school and home.

By the way, October 14th 2023 is International E-Waste Day. This year’s message is: “You can recycle anything with a plug, battery or cable! International E-Waste Day to shed the light on ‘invisible’ electronic waste.”

Q3. What exactly is the Electronic Products Sector that you operate in? 

COMSOL has been operating since 1991 and is a manufacturer, importer and distributor of small electronics products including cables, chargers, power banks and adaptors. We distribute nationally via Officeworks stores and have B2B channels at that scale too.

Q4. Why is recycling and circular thinking important when we think of Electronic Products and E-Waste? 

Across all goods and services sectors there is a growing recognition that recycling is only one part of the puzzle about how to reduce waste. This is especially the case for the electronic sector in the need to reduce e-waste and packaging from those products. Fortunately there is a growing understanding and use of the sustainability hierarchy or Rs of Sustainability: Refuse, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refurbish, Remanufacture, Repurpose, Recycle, Recover. The point of this process is to minimise negative environmental, social and/or economic impact by using methods that are higher up the hierarchy because they promote and enable a circular economy for products and packaging.

Q5. Are your competitors increasingly thinking about sustainability in your business sector? 

Our approach to sustainability has been to share and communicate what we are doing, why we are doing it and how we’re achieving it. We want others to know and learn from our successes just like we want to learn from theirs. For us, we know that to have success across a world that has a new value driven approach that can achieve sustainability goals it will focus on People, Planet and Purpose. There are more and more businesses in the electronics sector that are taking part, which is hugely important. Our hope is that this process can be accelerated by everyone in the sector, even if a business is a direct competitor there are vital things that we must collaborate for, a sustainable future is certainly one of those.

Q6. How important is education in helping to solve the E-Waste challenge? 

It was hugely important, when deciding to partner with COOL.ORG, that the material we were creating was open-source and available for both a young and older age group. Providing access to education is vital in addressing major issues that effect global and local communities, such as e-waste. It can provide awareness, knowledge and toolkits of resources that enable people to become changemakers in their lives and in their communities. Education is a key pillar at COMSOL and we believe that to address the e-waste crisis education is required to unlock opportunities that can accelerate the circular economy.

It’s important to recognise that education is a part of the whole that can be enhanced through collaboration. Our Sustainable Electronics Solutions video showcase is a great illustration of this. As a collective, the 36 expert insight interviews provide a broad range of resources. Educational knowledge that can assist in addressing the e-waste crisis at certain points across the electronic product value chain. We all need to be involved in sharing knowledge and by learning from others for education to be as powerful as it can be in solving the e-waste challenge.

Q7. How can publications, such as Eco-Voice, play their part in promoting a move to more sustainability in your business sector?

I’ve mentioned knowledge sharing a few times to this point, but it really is a pivotal part of the journey to a more sustainable world for business and society. Publications such as Eco Voice can provide avenues to share this knowledge that are clear, well articulated and specifically targeted to make positive impact with any piece published. For the electronics sector there is a large opportunity to inspire and engage people in the journey through the use of stories and informative pieces that highlight how each and every person working in the sector can take part in driving change. There is such a large cohort of people that can become involved and this presents a great
opportunity that publications including Eco Voice can be part of by sharing knowledge.


First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.


COMSOL is a manufacturer, importer and distributor of small electronic products, including cables, chargers, power banks and adaptors. Operating since 1991, the business is one of the leaders in this product category in Australia, and notably has embedded sustainability at its core in recent years. Highlighted through their approach to packaging and products, including the launch of their Sustainably Connected branding in line with their industry leading recognition from the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and their range of cables that utilise third-party certified recycled plastic. This holistic, forward-thinking approach has led to the development and launch of Closing The E-Loop, a first-of-its-kind education resource addressing the e-waste crisis, led by their Head of Social and Environmental Sustainability, Tim de Ridder. Closing The E-Loop includes their Sustainable Electronics Solutions portfolio: a toolkit of engaging and informative resources, featuring 36 interviews with 38 industry leaders from across the electronic product supply chain, empowering change at work, home and school.


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