Teaching kids to better care for our planet's finite resources: the ROMO school in Getxo, Spain, takes part in one of our demonstrations!

15 January 2021

According to a recent study by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) it is estimated that a stock of 700 million electrical and electronic devices is “hibernating” in EU households, a clear case of untapped potential! In a hypothetical scenario where all these devices are collected and recycled, approximately 14,920 tonnes of gold, silver, copper, palladium, cobalt, and lithium with a value of over €1 billion could be recovered, making significant amounts of secondary material available again.[1]

With the CIRC4Life project we aim to raise awareness on sustainable consumption. Our pilot on Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) (https://www.circ4life.eu/demo2) engages citizens in the recycling and reuse of these goods, and in particular, of tablets. Tablets were put on the market in 2010 and since then around 140 million of units are sold per year. However, despite the presence of all these units in households and their estimated 5-year lifecycle, the waste collection rates don’t reflect this reality. This kind of waste is known as a growing “hidden treasure” and piles up in people’s drawers. Users are often reluctant to get rid of their tablets because they contain private information, and/or they consider they still have a certain value, or simply have an emotional bond with their device.

As part of the pilot’s awareness raising and educational activities, our partners Indumetal Recycling and Recyclia, installed an intelligent container in the Romo Public School in Getxo in December last year, to collect not only tablets but also small electronic devices for subsequent treatment and recycling. This marked the start of the CIRC4Life demonstration activities. The bin will stay in the school until 10th February 2021.

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Before presenting the container, experts from Indumetal Recycling talked to various groups of students about circular economy, sustainable consumption and practical concepts of recycling and reuse. Following this, a short workshop on disassembling tablets was also held to show the students the valuable and toxic components which can be found in these widely used devices. Finally, explanations were given on how to use the container and its role in the recycling process of small electronic devices.

Students were very engaged, asking many questions, especially on what type of wastes they could bring and how to package them. One girl asked a brilliant question: “why doesn’t the incentive system give more eco-credits to the oldest device, as using a product for a longer time is more sustainable?” Additionally, students showed a strong interest on how these recycling activities could influence their environment, town and school.

Students from Romo Public School are now able to recycle their small electronic devices. In return, the school will receive Eco-credits which will be used to contribute to environmental initiatives such as planting trees, even in the school itself. These Eco-credits are part of the new CIRC4Life incentive collaborative system developed to increase the collection rates of these e-wastes and to encourage citizens to reuse and recycle them.

 

Soon, a second intelligent bin will be placed in some of the public spaces of Getxo where citizens can partake in the CIRC4Life incentive collaborative system by disposing of their old devices and receive eco-credits for their sustainable action.

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[1] CEPS, “Identifying the impact of the circular economy on the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Industry: opportunities and challenges for businesses, workers and consumers – mobile phones as an example”, 2019, https://circulareconomy.europa.eu/platform/sites/default/files/impact_of_ce_on_fmcg_-_mobile_phones_case_study.pdf)