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A STORY ABOUT OPPORTUNITIES
Our story is about opportunities. Opportunities to turn e-waste into a source of income for people in developing countries.
Five billion people own a mobile telephone. But what happens to these phones when they no longer function properly, and must be discarded? In developing countries, hundreds of millions of telephones end up in a land fill or the illegal recycling circuit – a problem that is only growing due to a lack of regulations and recycling facilities. Discarded phones are even burnt in an attempt to recover the metal they contain. This is not only detrimental to the environment and to public health; this process ultimately allows only a fraction of the recyclable materials to be actually extracted.
There must be another way to go about doing this, thought Joost de Kluijver. Joost regularly traveled to Africa on business and decided to investigate this problem. He discovered that there are only five factories in the entire world that responsibly and safely recycle mobile phones! Almost 99 per cent of all the gold, copper and silver that mobile telephones contain is extracted and made available for reuse through these recyclers.
When Joost discovered this alternative he immediately decided to found the social enterprise Closing the Loop. He collected scrap phones, purchasing them in Africa and Asia in order to ship them to Europe for further processing. He saw an opportunity to turn a waste problem into a business case; enabling waste to be transformed into something valuable: a source of income.
In first-world countries, separating your waste and bringing your old mobile phone to a collection point is a matter of course, but this form of awareness is only starting to emerge in developing countries. The biggest challenge was to establish networks of scrap dealers in Africa and Asia in both the formal and informal sector to collect the telephones. This goal has since been achieved in more than ten countries.
In all of these countries, e-waste causes many problems, but we would rather view it in a positive light. We aim to offer a solution rather than bring a problem to the attention of the general public. We create jobs out of waste. Together with our local partners, we enable impoverished people to recycle their waste and, by doing so, earn money. Aside from that, we help companies develop a sustainable mobile telephone policy.
With Closing the Loop, local entrepreneurship is given a boost, the ever-growing waste stream is reduced and mobile telephones are made more sustainable.
We connect with local entrepreneurs and mobile phone users, manufacturers and recyclers,
with the ultimate goal of providing the mobile phone industry with an incentive to embrace full-scale circularity.
JOOST DE KLUIJVER
Founder Closing the Loop
OUR UNIQUE APPROACH RESULTS IN
This approach fits in perfectly with our SRE policy. Closing the Loop provides insight into how much our telephones are worth in terms of CO2 reduction, how much e-waste is saved from the landfill and how many scarce materials are extracted after
recycling. This example should be followed by all companies.
LEENDERT VAN BERGEIJK
Sustainability Manager, TMG
JOOST DE KLUIJVER
The idea behind Closing the Loop was born during a project I did in Tanzania, 2010. My former company brought mobile phone to Africa for reuse. There I saw that mobile phones lead to huge problems at the end of their lifespan. Closing the Loop is the result of a long-term effort and strong local networks. I am proud of that.
PROJECT MANAGER AFRICA
I grew up in South Africa and Ghana. After finishing my IT studies and Hotel school in The Netherlands, I started my own company to improve communication and workflows of organisations and projects. During my work I came across the world of electronic waste and recycling. At Closing the Loop I focus on strengthening the existing networks and helping the organisation grow through my experience and knowledge from Africa.
JOSETTE DE VROEG
MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
After my study communication at the University of Amsterdam I worked at IDFA, TEDxAmsterdam and TTC Mobile, one of the first social enterprises in the Netherlands. At Closing the Loop I work as a Marketing and Communications Manager. What I like most about Closing the Loop is that their unique approach turns waste into a source of income for people in Africa and Asia.
FOUNDATION MANAGER & COMMUNICATIONS
For me, Closing the Loop is the answer to limit the harm of scrap mobile phones. We strive for a circular business model that is profitable for everyone and environmentally friendly at the same time. With my experience in campaigning and network in the world of sustainable electronics I put Closing the Loop on the map.
MANAGER OPERATIONS & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
What inspires me is that Closing the Loop is able to connect different worlds in order to reduce e-waste together. An important task, while research shows that in 2020 90% of the world population will have a mobile phone. Within Closing the Loop I’m responsible for the operational management of the organisation and business development of the Closing the Loop foundation.
During my organisational change and consulting master studies at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, I was trying to figure out how to put my passion for nature and hands-on attitude into practise serving a good cause I can fully stand behind. I came across Closing the Loop by accident; Reinhardt and I went to the same university and he approached me with the opportunity. I work as Project Manager focusing on the Africa region.