E-Recycle Peru is a business idea that would collect unused phones and computers and break them down to basic components for export. Because, although you may not believe it (or have never wondered), the Pentium you have at home that no one uses and that old cell phone have gold and copper traces that can be crushed and melted.
“In Peru there are three companies that do this, but they only reach the dismantling stage, since melting is very expensive and unprofitable considering the small volume collected,” says William Marin. “Still, those three companies only deal with 4% of the total waste of this kind.”
To ensure a large and constant supply, machinery must be supplied by companies. “E-Recycle Peru will not buy the parts: it will simply subtract the high cost of storage for companies. The proposal includes the issue of environmental responsibility – by way of recycling – and the social issue, as we plan to employ people with disabilities for the dismantling phase,” said Alarcon.
Electronic waste in Peru
1. Imports of electronics to Peru increased 30 times during the period between 1994 and 2009.
2. The average time that consumers renew their cell phones in Peru is two years. The lifespan of a computer in Peru is estimated at seven years.
3. Only in 2009, 9,500 tonnes of electrical and electronic equipment waste were generated.
Another interesting point for companies that collect used electronics is transparency. According to the students of the project, in the informal sector there are unscrupulous people that manage to track valuable data from disposed computers. “When they donate their old PCs, we guarantee that no one can retrieve sensitive information from banks, universities, et cetera,” Alarcon commented. A notarized document and recordings of the destruction of the computer would be a way of ensuring the process’s transparency.
Although the goverment is considering different legislation on this type of waste, no regulation currently exists. So, whoever decides to take on this business must appeal to environmental commitments. “Other than the supply of machinery, the most expensive part is the marketing, as few know they can recycle these devices,” says Marin.
For now, the award that they won has helped them to get noticed.
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