At Cisco, we are focused on making sustainable thinking a business imperative. Using the lens of the circular economy, we are changing the way we do business, including being more deliberate about how and when to use plastic.

Like many companies, Cisco uses plastic across its product portfolio and in its packaging. Plastic has a lot of benefits, from its technical properties to its low cost and its light weight, which help reduce logistics emissions. However, it also comes with many, well‑documented challenges.

For example, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled globally, and in the United States, that statistic is only nine percent. Plastic that is not recycled likely ends up in landfill, with some released into the environment, where it migrates to waterways and the oceans.

It is time for Cisco to make a significant change in our plastic usage by committing to decrease our use of virgin plastic by 20% by 2025, using FY18 as our base year.*

Where technically feasible, we will design plastic out of our products and packaging and reduce our overall material use in the process. Where it is not viable to design out plastic, we will increase the use of recycled plastic. This reduces the extraction of finite natural resources, such as petroleum. It also helps to increase demand for recycled plastic across the industry, making it a more viable economic option for more companies.

We are already making strides in this effort. In FY18, Cisco produced 2.6 million IP phones with 35% recycled content plastic, avoiding the use of more than 437 metric tons of virgin plastic. Additionally, we currently use 10-15% regrind in Cisco-designed parts such as our enclosures. In the design of our switching and routing products, we are piloting bezel-less designs and plastic-free packaging. However, we have a long way to go to achieve our ambitious goal.

Cisco is committed to leading the future of circular design and value-chain sustainability, and we see this as one important step toward our broader goals. Expect more to come!

Are you ready to join the circular movement? Learn more about our environmental sustainability on our CSR website.

* The plastics included in this goal make up the majority of Cisco’s use, however, it excludes plastics contained in commodity components sourced from suppliers (e.g., printed circuit boards). Most of these electronic components require the electrical insulating property provided by plastics.


John Kern

Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Operations