Upcycling electronic waste

The challenge: Develop new products from parts of old, discarded computers and other electronic devices.

Description of the problem

The Hague is a city in which many governmental institutions and international companies are situated. It is estimated that in just The Hague, 100.000 computers will be replaced in the coming years. Moreover, many tablets and mobile phones will also be replaced. Once these devices are discarded most of these electronic devices leave the city.

How can we make sure these devices remain in the chain, while creating employment opportunities in the city? This way, we would keep the raw materials in a cycle which is called the circular economy. A circular economy is based on the reduction, reuse and recycling of raw materials.

What are we looking for?

We are searching for a startup that:

  • can make new products from old computers
  • thinks in chain solutions and adds value to raw materials
  • looks for collaborations rather than competition
  • gives companies and citizens value for their (discarded) devices
  • preferably finds local solutions that generate new jobs in The Hague

What are we not looking for?

  • We are not searching for a waste processor, but an upcycler of raw materials.
  • We are not looking for startups that make art out of it, but rather startups that make concrete products that can be sold

Background information

Starting in the summer of 2018, residents of Nijmegen can enjoy the sun on city benches made from parts of old electronic devices. Nijmegen is the Green Capital of Europe in 2018 and therefore several activities are taking place. The city benches are a result of one of the projects of the Challenge Circular Economy of the Green Capital Challenges Foundation. Students from various schools in Nijmegen are collecting discarded electronic devices, in collaboration with De Bastei foundation, waste company Dar and recycle organization Wecycle.

Parts of old electronic devices are used to make new city benches based on a circular design by city designer Hugo van der Kallen. Using these parts is a logical step: “Everyone has old electronic equipment at home,” says designer Hugo van der Kallen. “We started looking for materials that people have in their drawers or attics and happened to find parts of old computers and mobile phones. The gold and silver products are often reused, but we wanted to use the other, often discarded, parts of these devices to develop a hip and attractive product. We believe it is important to make something ‘valuable’ out of something ‘worthless’”.

By making new products out of these ‘seemingly worthless’ old devices, The Green Challenge Circular Economy team hopes to show that waste does not exist.