Noha Hussein, 26, has an old PC sitting on her desk from when she was younger. The computer no longer works, and she has no use for it, yet she does not know what to do with it and how to dispose of it safely.
Then she saw advertisements for a new application called E-Tadweer created specifically to recycle old electronic devices safely. By using the application, she would not only be giving away the machine to be recycled in a safe manner, but she would also be getting discounts and vouchers to exchange for products at certain outlets.
The Environmental Compliance and Sustainable Development Office (ECO) at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) has created and launched the E-Tadweer application to collect unwanted devices from households to recycle them in an environmentally friendly way in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment.
“It’s an initiative rather than an application, and it was created because of the importance of solving the problem of electronic waste safely,” Executive Director of the ECO Ahmed Kamal told Al-Ahram Weekly.
To encourage people to get rid of their old electronic devices through the application, E-Tadweer has partnered with merchants that will give vouchers or discounts on other devices in exchange for old ones.
E-Tadweer was launched in April, and it operates mainly in Cairo and Giza. The app has now been downloaded over 100,000 times and the replacement process has been extended to Alexandria, Assiut, Mahalla Al-Kobra and Mansoura.
“Demand from users in the different governorates on the Facebook page of the app encouraged the ECO to expand the reach of the application,” sustainable development expert and chemical industry coordinator Adel Taha said.
According to Taha, the application started as an idea in 2018 and evolved into an app in 2019 targeting a small segment of people in the industrial community. However, the idea caught on quickly, and the number of users grew. The challenge now, according to Kamal, is getting more merchants to cooperate with the ECO and offer vouchers to users.
Devices accepted for recycling through the application include portable electronic devices that are easy to store, such as routers, mobile phones, screens, and computers. Household appliances, such as microwaves and refrigerators, are not accepted because of a lack of storage space.
Kamal said that more partnerships were needed before they could take in bigger devices and expand to more locations.
“There are nine facilities working on recycling after the worn-out devices are collected. The ECO makes sure that these have the technical know-how and financial capability to do the recycling,” Kamal said.
The facilities are approved by the Ministry of Environment because they do the recycling safely without producing toxic gases or pollution, unlike what can be the case in the informal sector.
The ECO also tries to encourage informal establishments that recycle to do so in an environmentally friendly manner.
The collected devices are transferred to facilities that separate them into raw materials such as copper and plastic. These are then delivered to other factories that use them in manufacturing other products.
The Ministry of Environment has labelled E-Tadweer part of its “Live Green” initiative aimed at spreading environmental awareness within the framework of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development Egypt 2030 that aims to reduce pollution by 50 per cent of solid particles by the end of 2030.
Recycling will create a new industry that can attract investment and in turn create jobs, said Kamal, adding that this new industry can also play a role in providing raw materials for many factories in Egypt.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 23 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly