In cities zero waste and digital divide organizations collaborate with refurbishers, retailers, recyclers and city authorities to create reuse circuits.
- Porto (under construction)
- Madrid (under construction)
- Bilbao (under construction)
- Carouge (under construction)
- Manchester (under construction)
What is a eReuse Circuit?
When most of the local reuse centers collaborate and complement with each other (cost-oriented, not profit-oriented) we can say that an eReuse circuit as a collaborative platform has emerged. There are two platform levels. The first level involves only reuse centers. In this level each actor has its own platform. In the second level (collaborative), an entity focused on zero waste or/and digital divide create an collective platform. In Barcelona, for example, there are three circuits where 20+ reuse centers collaborate.
There are four main stakeholders: i) public administrations, interested in donation to the circuit, ii) reuse centers and professionals interested in added-value services to distribute, refurbish, repair, retail, enhance, or recycle second-hand devices, iii) customers, end users interested in using environmentally-friendly reused devices or just more cost-effective, iv) zero waste, digital divide focused organizations that manage the circuits and assign devices to reuse centers and retailers.
How a Circuit works?
Devices enter a circuit primarily through 3 channels: 1) collective procurement of new or used products, 2) charitable donation from public administrations and companies, e.g. a city council seeking to feed the local social economy and reuse surpluses for target groups in vulnerable situations, and 3) exchanges from other members of the circuit with stocks that cannot be processed internally.
Let’s consider, for example, a donation from the public administration. When a donor, such as the city council of Barcelona, has devices, contacts its circuit manager, Pangea.org in Barcelona, responsible for referring the donation to a circuit member. Each circuit agrees upon its own rules for referral of donations to a member. In the Pangea circuit we consider the current potential for increased use value during the process of refurbishment.
Then the reuse center picks up the devices in the donors facilities and bring them to their facilities. There, the devices are repaired, registered in the device inventory and tagged. Thanks to the TagItsmart.eu EU project today we use quick scan and no duplicated tags. An smartphone app allows quick access to information about the life cycle of each devices.
The end result is an inventory with all the information about each device and internal components. This inventory is shared with retailers, such as Abacus. coop, a cooperative with more than 800,000 members that channels computers to schools, or donalo.org, that distributes devices to NGOs. The reuse center can check at any time where is each device and if and when they end up in a recycling point.
The city councils
The result is that public administrations and local circular economy entities have formal, scalable and sustainable reuse circuits that offer traceability and guarantee proper recycling. City councils deliver device surpluses to citizens and organizations, with great effect in creating inclusive jobs, starting or accelerating efficiency and scaling up of local exchange/market of second hand computers and mobiles, and related jobs of transport, refurbishment, support, recycling. These jobs start as volunteering that become stable jobs as local circuits grow and get enough volume and income from the sale of devices, with help from local governments and social enterprises.
The customers of eReuse circuits are citizens that prefer second hand devices for environmental reasons, citizens in risk of exclusion supported or advised by public social services, and organizations demanding larger volume of devices such as schools, social enterprises, environment or budget-concerned public or private organizations. Citizens benefit from a pool of devices at a lower economic and environmental cost, at well as creating local jobs (in social and commercial organizations) for the collection, refurbishment and support (computing-as-a-service) by locals for locals.
Computing and electronic devices registered in a local circuit are traceable, linked (privacy preserving) to its users (report usage), properly recycled at the end. Citizens can find out about where to get or drop them for reuse or recycle. Incentives can be created in cities to promote environmental sustainable practices (also measuring CO2 savings). Citizens can purchase second-hand devices (in person or via e-commerce), with trusted origin, with a wide range of service providers to assist in maintenance, repair, improvement, repurchase (buy-back) or take-back services.
An example, Barcelona Circuit
Collaboration in Barcelona is the result of the need to scale up. In the past no entity in Barcelona could process more than 500 computers per month. Large donations were already a problem (e.g. warehouse, processing effort, find demand). Acting together and specialization now allows scaling up of reuse centers and retailers that together can process up to 3,000 devices per month without having to discard any donations.
The city council of Barcelona did not want to work with a single or few reuse centers, but reach all, so a coordinating entity was selected. Pangea.org, a zero waste and digital divide entity, coordinates the circuit and manages agreements with the city council and other donors. Pangea coordinates the distribution of devices across reuse centers while ensuring traceability and accountability.
Impact of eReuse in Barcelona
Our platform in Barcelona for the donation of computer equipment (computers, mobile phones, printers), provides the following benefits: 20 consolidated workplaces in 18 social reuse centers, 500.000 €/year of social economy created, 350.000 €/year in cost savings on subsidies from city governments related to addressing digital divide, waste prevention (92% of the devices given are reused) and 43 ton in savings of electronic waste and 864 ton of GHG emissions from usage of second hand devices, increased guarantee of recycling (95%) with recovery of raw materials (last year in Europe only 35%), development of the local economy, digital inclusion from the affordable supply of second hand (400 entities recipients of equipment each year), 16 million of computing hours created each year.