WorldLoop Receives Award for the Environment from Business & Society

On October 23, 2013 The partnership between WorldLoop and Umicore received 3rd place at the Belgian Business Awards for the Environment in the category ‘international business cooperation’ granted by Business & Society.

According to the jury, this project is based on solid economic and environmental logic and combines “the best of two worlds” through an innovative partnership. By joining Umicore’s expertise in recycling with the experience of WorldLoop in Africa, the partners are contributing to a safe and sustainable treatment of e-waste in this region. The jury was impressed by their work with local actors to train and empower them.

The award was granted for the collaboration between both organizations to provide an environmentally sound solution for the complex and hazardous e-waste fractions collected in Africa, for which no local solution exists today. This recognizes the joint efforts of WorldLoop and Umicore to provide an environmentally sound solution for waste electronics (e-waste) that is collected and dismantled in Africa. Local dismantling and sorting entrepreneurs are being connected by WorldLoop with Umicore’s best in class recycling technologies.

The key objectives of the partnership are to avoid the uncontrolled dumping of e-waste and the improper dismantling, burning and leaching of this waste, which causes environmental and health issues in the developing world. In addition, the project aims to support the setup of local businesses and recycling infrastructure by providing seed-funding, knowledge sharing and a means to dispose of all e-waste fractions, valuable and non-valuable alike.WorldLoop focuses specifically on e-waste that has accumulated in Africa originating from ICT for development projects that have reached their end of use in the developing world. Without a solution the positive social impact of this equipment in the use phase is has the potential of being offset by the environmental and health challenges in the end of life phase.The first e-waste recycling facility, the WEEE Centre, was launched in 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya. Entrepreneurs there are developing skills at managing an e-waste recycling center and learning how to appropriately treat all fractions of e-waste. Since  the partnership began  WorldLoop has set up three additional collection and dismantling centres in Tanzania, Rwanda and Chile accounting for over 750 tonnes of e-waste to be collected and dismantled. Of this, 50 tonnes of hazardous fractions have been sent to Europe to be treated using more efficient recycling processes with lower environmental impact than local treatment or landfill. This includes 25 tonnes of printed circuit boards that have been shipped to Umicore’s recycling facility in Hoboken, close to Antwerp. Umicore processes the waste and recovers precious and other metals, the value of which is being reinvested to finance the collection and recycling of other devices.Umicore also donates its own used PCs to Close the Gap, a strategic partner of WorldLoop. Close the Gap collects computers from donor companies, refits them for use and then makes the  IT equipment available to socio-educational projects (such as schools and hospitals) in Africa. Once these PCs reach the end of their life, WorldLoop, (with the help of Close the Gap’s e-waste offsetting program) makes sure they will be collected and dismantled by local recyclers and the hazardous fractions are transported back to Umicore….to be recycled.