The following is an excerpt from the 2022 Cisco Purpose Report, published on December 8, 2022.

Circular design means designing products and systems that enable reuse, minimize environmental impact and resource use, drive innovation, and realize value for our stakeholders. In fiscal 2021, we launched a design evaluation methodology to help us track progress toward our circular design goal. In the initial year of using this methodology, 13 percent of new product and packaging designs were evaluated and scored against that methodology, 33 percent of which met our circular design criteria. We are taking steps to further embed the evaluation process into the product development lifecycle.

For example, Cisco’s NCS1K product family consists of controller cards, optical interfaces, fan trays, and power supplies. Given the complexity of this system, thoughtful design for circularity is crucial. The NCS1K team developed the device for multiple, extended lifecycles with redundant fans (one can be repaired while the other runs), easily replaceable modules, and a working hours counter that provides refurbishers with runtime data.

One of Cisco’s circular design focus areas is packaging and accessories. We are taking a close look at what accessories we can remove from standard configurations, and reducing our use of virgin plastics wherever possible. Recent innovations and their impacts in fiscal 2022 include:

  • For many product lines, we have replaced plastic with more sustainable materials, including recycled paperboard and wax paper, and for power cords, we replaced plastic bags with scannable wraps. 4M Meraki accessories shipped in paper-based packaging made of 70% recycled content
  • To reduce the volume of unused accessories and avoid waste, we added a “no power cord” option to thousands of product configurations and also eliminated the disposable electrostatic discharge strap from the accessory kit for our enterprise products. 205,000 power cord shipments and associated packaging avoided
  • For several product lines, we replaced foam packaging, another plastic-based material, with more sustainable alternatives, the packaging for the Catalyst IR8140 Heavy Duty Router being the first solution at Cisco to use a fiber-flute material in place of the foam cushioning typically required for heavier products. 37,273 pounds of foam reduced across Cisco products
  • With the aim of decreasing overall material use, we reduced the use of corrugate in our packaging through several initiatives, including the shipment of products in multipack packaging and the removal of unused accessories and their associated packaging. 700,000 pounds of corrugate reduced, equivalent to >1 million pizza boxes

Embedding circularity from sale through product reuse

We know we have an important role to play in how our customers are meeting their own sustainability goals. Customers are increasingly considering as-a-service models and want to extend the lifecycle of their equipment. In fiscal 2022, Cisco Capital launched Cisco Green Pay, a payment solution that makes it easier for customers to build a sustainable technology strategy to reach their ESG goals. It provides a path for customers of all sizes to acquire Cisco sustainable solutions. The program offers predictable payments for five years, with a 5 percent incentive on equipment at the outset, while Cisco retains ownership. Our other long-standing programs focused on return and reuse, including our remanufactured products offered through Cisco Refresh, help contribute to our customers meeting their sustainability goals, while also helping us make progress towards our PACE Capital Equipment Pledge.

To learn more about the progress we’re making to power a more inclusive future, visit our Cisco ESG Reporting Hub, where you can read our 2022 Cisco Purpose Report.

Cover of the Cisco Purpose Report


Stacey Faucett

Manager, Sustainability Communications Governance and Compliance

Chief Sustainability Office