Added: Feb 17, 2021
Last edited: Mar 31, 2021
For every new device their customers buy or lease, Closing the Loop collects and recycles electronic waste in low income countries.
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-, third- or even fourth-hand devices, to be used there. 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.
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 has actively been operating in over 10 African countries, and has a particular focus on Ghana and Nigeria. 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. They also recently did a pilot project to collect batteries. Closing the Loop incentivizes 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.
This case study has been created as part of Footprints Africa's work to build the first ever comprehensive mapping of circular economy initiatives in Africa. This will lay the foundation open-source database that can inspire local initiatives, as well as inform the global dialogue, which is largely focused on the European and American contexts. We are doing this in collaboration with the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN). ACEN's vision is to build a restorative African economy that generates well-being and prosperity inclusive of all its people through new forms of economic production and consumption which maintain and regenerate its environmental resources.
The objective is to build an open-source database featuring 500 cases by the end of 2021, with strong regional representation. These will feature in the Knowledge Hub and are also being mapped by GRID-Arendal.
Prioritise regenerative resources
Use waste as a resource
Rethink the business model
Team up to create joint value
Eliminate linear incentives and set goals and incentives for circularity
Process waste and ensure its re-entry into industry at its highest value
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