Collaborate to create joint value, Use waste as a resource, Rethink the business model
8Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
12Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
17Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
The global use of electric and electronic equipment increases by 2.5 million tonnes annually. Only approximately 17% of these items are formally collected and recycled at the end of their life.
Much e-waste is shipped to low-income countries as second-hand devices, even though they are often unusable. In Ghana, Agbogbloshie houses a dump site known globally for its negative effects on the environment and human health, but also for its resourceful entrepreneurs. This e-waste contains valuable materials such as indium and palladium, and precious metals such as gold, copper and silver.
These items of value can be recovered, recycled and reused as secondary raw materials.
Joost de Kluijver, founder of Closing the Loop, used to work with an IT company that sent mobile phones to Africa for reuse. However, he realised that these ultimately ended up as waste on a continent without the facilities to process them. After several years of experimenting with the value proposition to address this challenge, he developed the ‘One for One’ model.
For companies looking to procure electronic goods sustainably, they can offset their purchase by guaranteeing that a device will be safely removed from the environment.
Closing the Loop provides e-waste compensation to businesses that purchase or lease ICT devices. Customers pay a compensation fee for any new device they procure. This fee is used to cover the cost of safely collecting and recycling an e-waste device in countries that lack recycling capacity.
Closing the Loop is currently operating in 10 African countries with a particular focus on Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia. Formal networks such as phone repair shops, schools, churches and other registered agents collect e-waste material from around the country and sell this to Closing the Loop’s local partners. The waste material collected consists of mobile phones, and batteries of phones and laptops.
Closing the Loop incentivises collectors who do not dismantle the electronics, which can be unsafe and lead to toxic elements going into the environment. Waste materials are registered and shipped out of the respective country of collection to a network of recycling plants in Europe. Closing the Loop’s waste management approach has been reviewed, adopted and TCO Certified.