SNEW collects over hundred thousand electronics for recycling
It started about two years ago. Martijn van Engelen – founder of SNEW – set a goal that many people thought would be nearly impossible to achieve: collect a hundred thousand electronics for recycling and reuse by the end of 2014.
Not only the retailer surpassed that goal in 2014. They also teach young people in Bangladesh the amazing possibilities of working with computers and get knowledge from the internet. At this moment, students are researching the reuse possibilities, in South Africa.
SNEW made plenty of adjustments that were behind the scenes to deliver against its initiatives and to minimize the expense of the program. The company has actually been collecting electronics since 2006, but the company formalized the program in 2012 and decided against building its own recycling and refurbishment infrastructure.
Instead, it has allied itself with e-waste experts that can help SNEW harvest value from the materials and precious metals that are within the outdated or damaged products. Waste minimization in recent years and the rising cost of resources and energy has led to the growth of recycling, remanufacturing and material recovery.
The retailer’s own research shows only 30% of consumers and organizations recycle their electronic items. The data that was collected suggests that there is plenty of room for upside: Seventy percent of the respondents said they anticipate recycling these items in the future.
While many items collected so far have been computers, Martijn expects that will shift in the next year, with more and more mobile phones, notebooks and tablets coming SNEWs way. It is also closely watching trade-in trends as nearly half of the survey respondents surrendered their old mobile phones for some sort of compensation when buying a new one.
“Their first job is to see whether they can repair the item and get it back into the market,” Martijn said. “The next step is to determine: Are there other parts they can use?”
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