Earth Overshoot Day 2020

Sending a signal to trade and industry

Our society has been living beyond its means for decades. Whether the coronavirus pandemic will persuade us to use resources more responsibly and move away from the linear system depends to some extent on how cost-effective the alternatives are.

When you compare the global use of biological resources with Earth’s capacity to renew them, it quickly becomes clear that humans are living well beyond their means. According to the experts of the Global Footprint Network, humanity would need 1.6 Earths to live sustainably. This imbalance is strikingly highlighted by Earth Overshoot Day. It marks the day of the year when human demand for renewable resources exceeds Earth’s capacity to reproduce them.  

Most recently, our ‘budget’ had already been used up by the middle of the year. In 2020, the date was calculated to be August 22, three weeks later than in 2019. The reason is that global CO2 emissions fell by 14.5 percent year on year. This is mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge restrictions that have been introduced to contain it.  

A turning point for society and business  
Even though the environmental impact of the pandemic may only last for a short period of time, the forced economic deceleration it has brought about raises many questions for businesses. Companies are looking more closely at the necessity of air travel and face-to-face meetings, for example, and interrupted supply chains and production bottlenecks have intensified the debate about the future of our linear trading system. 

Sustainable business models are on the rise

Anyone looking for sustainable alternatives will find there are proven solutions on the market already, such as those offered by CHG-MERIDIAN. The international technology management company has been following the principles of the circular economy for more than 40 years by focusing on reusing products and extending their life.  

“End-to-end lifecycle management has always been at the heart of our business model. We support our customers from the procurement of their equipment and its use all the way to its sustainable refurbishment and remarketing”, says Matthias Steybe, Group Sustainability Officer at CHG-MERIDIAN. The technology sector, in particular, is characterized by very short lifecycles, but even here sustainable ideas are feasible and financially attractive. “Our customers can not only save costs through intelligent IT procurement, but also act more resource-efficiently and sustainably.”  

The principles of the circular economy in detail 
CHG-MERIDIAN’s proprietary technology centers in Germany and Norway are good examples of how to put professional lifecycle management into practice. Every year, almost 500,000 IT devices such as smartphones, laptops, and printers undergo cosmetic and technical refurbishment here, have sensitive data erased, and are prepared for a second product lifecycle.  

A further 200,000 or so devices are refurbished to the highest standards through our global network of certified partners. Overall, 95 percent of assets are refurbished. Any assets that can no longer be used are sustainably and professionally recycled, and the raw materials are returned to the material cycle. 


95 %

of all assets returned to CHG-MERIDIAN are given a second life


refurbished and remarketed assets


assets erased using a certified procedure

Sharing instead of buying is key 
In the sharing economy, it is no longer the ownership of objects that creates value, it is their use. That is why CHG-MERIDIAN has been offering customized technology management solutions for many years.  

Leasing helps to implement innovations faster and more efficiently, makes the digitalization of all areas of the economy more sustainable, and facilitates the introduction of new, resource-efficient means of using technology.  

The crisis is an opportunity for change 
“If equipment is used more than once, instead of being purchased each time and disposed of after use, the need for new equipment is reduced. This has considerable benefits for the environment, as huge quantities of raw materials are needed to produce a laptop or smartphone,” says Steybe.  

It remains to be seen just how much alternative business models like CHG-MERIDIAN’s can reduce the economy’s carbon footprint. Experts agree that without the COVID-19 pandemic, Earth Overshoot Day would have moved forward again this year. The current backward trend should not be regarded as an all-clear, but rather as an incentive to do more in the future to protect our finite resources and establish new forms of doing business. 

“Our customers can not only save costs through intelligent IT procurement, but also act more resource-efficiently and sustainably,” says Matthias Steybe, who as Group Sustainability Officer has been responsible for sustainability management at the CHG-MERIDIAN Group since July 2020.