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Project: E-waste Collection & Recycling

Location

Africa

Summary

Working with local people & partners to collect end-of-life scrap phones in African countries lacking recycling infrastructure. This ensures the e-waste is properly collected locally and shipped to certified recycling facilities. There is no damaging impact from e-waste building up in landfill and the reusable materials like gold and silver are circulated back - as for example a source for jewellery. It also creates local jobs.

Who is behind it?

Closing the Loop

Why did we choose this project?

The explosion of e-waste is having dire consequences for humans and nature around the world. Wealthy countries transport most of their electronics to poorer ones, where it ends up as e-waste in landfill, harming people and the planet. As the e-waste breaks down harmful chemicals are released, often finding their way into the water supply. The value of the metals contained in the electronics means that locals, often women and children, attempt to recover even the smallest amount of a precious metal by hand using toxic chemicals.

We need to move to a circular economy – that is, one where we use less, and we reuse more. These projects contribute to that better world, by working to safely collect waste electronics and then recycling them so the material can be used again.

What do we most love about it?

How vital it is – electronics facilitate our modern world, but e-waste is the fastest growing type of waste – finding solutions to the impact of that is essential if we are to repair our world.

How does it work?

Pinwheel members’ funding facilitates the collection of end-of-life scrap phones in Africa. The electronics are then properly recycled locally or shipped to certified recycling facilities.

What broader benefits does it bring?

In the long run, the biggest benefit of properly dealing with e-waste is that the multitude of environmental harms caused by the chemicals leeched out by e-waste won’t occur.

The projects also see people in Africa engaged in profitable and useful jobs, including entrepreneurs setting up small collecting companies and students working to pay for education. More than 2,000 people have been employed through this work.

How will we know it's working?

We have real confidence in Closing the Loop – they have many years of experience in e-waste collection in Africa, where they have prevented almost 3 million scrap phones from ending up in e-waste dumps. We’re working closely with Closing the Loop, so that we have confidence that your funding leads to additional recycling. The TCO Certified framework is an independent validation of how they work as an Approved Collector and is recognised by governments and NGOs.

By the way...

It makes economic sense to re-use the materials from e-waste. Metals including gold, silver and palladium are present in almost all electronics, meaning that the global pile of e-waste is valued at $62.5 billion - more than the GDP of 120 countries!

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