The perfect dealExchanging e-waste for energy-efficient lighting
A small start-up in the Indian city of Bangalore is addressing two challenges at once – proper e-waste disposal and energy-efficient lighting – by making its clients a great offer: in exchange for their used dead electronic gadgets, people receive energy efficient LED lights for free. Read More
Smartphone, laptop, tablet – these days we would be completely lost without our smart electronic devices. But the market is tough on consumers. Most devices break once the two-year guarantee has expired, forcing us to go out and buy a new gadget.
Which raises the serious problem of what to do with our old electronic devices. Often they just gather dust on a shelf in the basement or attic for a while. Then, if we are being perfectly honest here, it is very tempting to try and get rid of them in the normal household rubbish. This is incredibly destructive to the environment though, since all the electronics we use today contain many toxic substances. Like chemical bombs, they release heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and cadmium, and persistent organic pollutants like dioxins if not disposed of properly.
Now imagine you never having to worry about disposing of your e-waste ever again. Someone would simply swing by your house, collect your used gadgets, and then even hand you a gift in exchange for your e-waste.
This is the service the Indian start-up Jogiv Eco-Services is offering in the city of Bangalore. And even better: if you and your neighbours come together to collect your e-waste as a community, Jogiv offers to install energy-efficient LED lights in the common areas of your living space. This struck us as an amazing idea, and we contacted Jogiv founder Vinayak Sanjay Urs to find out more.
Vinayak, Jogiv aims to address the e-waste problem in India. Why is the amount of e-waste growing?
Due to its high population, the usage of electronic gadgets in India is very high. The influx of unbranded and low-end affordable phones and gadgets from China is adding to the misery. Imported e-waste also adds to the problem to certain extent.
Why is this a problem?
If not managed properly, growing e-waste streams can impact the environment and human health. Currently, most of the e-waste in India is disposed of informally. People collect the e-waste and break down the gadgets to isolate the recyclable materials. The often-hazardous leftover materials, however, are typically either thrown away in the open, burnt on riverbanks or buried in landfills, thus increasing the emission of greenhouse gases and air and water pollution. We need proper recycling, which means splitting up the e-waste into the raw materials, and then finding the right disposal methodologies for each.
Imagine you never having to worry about disposing of your e-waste ever again.
Jogiv promises ethical disposal. How do you do this?
We partner with recyclers that are registered with the government. They have the tools and mechanisms to dispose of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste as per the required international standards. We have a group of volunteers in various areas of town who help us pick up the e-waste from individual homes so we can transport it to these registered ethical recyclers. This is actually also the way we make money: The recyclers pay us for the e-waste we collect and deliver. Our service helps them to focus on the recycling work rather than investing time and money into sourcing, managing logistics, and administration for the acquisition of e-waste. We also generate revenue from re-furbishers who repair and sell the products.
The earnings you receive from recyclers are shared with the volunteers and with your clients. You offer gift vouchers to private households in exchange for the used gadgets. What sort of gifts are they for?
These gift vouchers are from reputed retail outlets both online and offline. In fact, we also buy vouchers from stores of clients’ choice and mail them to our customers, as the needs are very different from person to person. The value of the vouchers depends on the value of their e-waste.
“The value of the vouchers depends on the value of their e-waste.”
Your most recent invention for improving e-waste collection is the “ECOLEKT” app. It helps people contact you, schedule a pick-up for their e-waste, and even select the reward vouchers they want. What else does it offer?
The ECOLEKT app has an easy interface and several embedded features, like a location indicator for existing e-waste recycling bins, the e-waste pick-up scheduler and an option for sharing with friends on social media. The possibility of tracking your electronic gadgets using GPS features will be included soon. Furthermore, it has awareness-raising features like the section called “Did you know about e-waste”.
Is lack of awareness a problem?
Definitely. People often keep lots of electronic junk at home and ultimately get rid of them with the regular waste, which ends up in landfills. Awareness is key, and our focus is to make people understand how important it is to reuse and recycle.
Jogiv offers communities, such as the inhabitants of apartment complexes or schools, LED lighting in exchange for using your e-waste disposal service. How did you come up with this idea of a waste–light exchange?
Apartment complexes and schools are usually a source of pooled e-waste and it doesn’t make sense to hand out individual rewards in exchange. Very often, these customers surrender many small items like cables, a mouse or keyboards. So finding a solution to this was a challenge, and I thought of making an offer that benefits the community as a whole.
But why did you choose to offer lighting instead of something else?
India faces acute energy supply shortages. Currently, public areas such as parking lots, access roads, stairs etc. are lit by fluorescent tube lights that consume 50-60 watts of electricity per hour. A fluorescent tube is filled with a gas comprising low-pressure mercury vapour and argon, xenon, neon, or krypton. If the tubes are not disposed of ethically, the gases are released into the atmosphere. Usually these fluorescent lights are on for almost 12 hours from dusk to dawn. Our LED lights would replace these lights. They emit the equivalent amount of illumination while consuming just 18 watts of power, thus reducing power consumption by more than 60% and conserving energy too. Another added benefit to the community is that LED lights considerably reduce their monthly maintenance bills, thus creating a double impact.
"If businesses want to surrender their e-waste to us, we offer them to light up a rural village in exchange."
You even have a special offer for corporate clients…
Yes, exactly. If businesses want to surrender their e-waste to us, we offer them to light up a rural village in exchange. That means that we identify villages that are not connected to the electricity grid and provide them with solar-powered LED lighting kits. Due to tight financial resources we aren’t yet on a full swing mode with corporates though.
What has feedback from your customers been like so far – are they pleased with the service?
People have called us and happily handed over their e-waste. Some have approached us to expand our operations to other cities, as they understand the miserable effect of e-waste dumped into landfills.
How many people work for your team?
Currently, Jogiv consists of me and my co-founder Prashanth Bhat as well as a few associates. We also have a group of volunteers in various areas helping us to pick up the e-waste from individual homes. Right now we’re looking for funding. We have already identified a good team that would join us once funding is in place. This will enable us to enhance the features of the mobile app and to expand to other major cities in India.