Mariana Andrea Nallim
Every year, 42 million tons of electronic waste is generated globally. In Argentina, each person generates 7 kilos of e-waste per year, on average . It is among the countries with the fastest-growing urban waste zones, as a result of the rapidly expanding market of electronic products and the accelerating speed at which they become obsolete.
Reciclarg was created in 2010 in order to recycle electronic waste. It is a certified “blue economy” company, established with the aim of altering the way in which production processes are usually run and tackling resulting environmental problems, shifting from the use of rare and high-energy-cost resources to solutions based on simpler and cleaner technologies. The company is inspired by circular economy principles, namely it leans towards zero waste and zero pollution by optimizing the whole production system in an integrated manner.
Reciclarg offers the following integrated services:
- Collection of and active search for electronic waste generated by individuals and companies
- Separation and recycling of materials to be used as raw inputs
- Reuse of materials, through rehabilitation and reparation of products for bottom-of-the-pyramid users or for the creation of spare parts that can extend the life of existing electronic devices
- Upcycling, through the design and production of sustainable products using residual materials that would find no other use
- Awareness raising and training of private citizens and company employees about the problems generated by e-waste and the optimal way to deal with it
Reciclarg has three permanent employees and three temporary employees (on a rotational basis) who are part of a training programme offered by the Ministry of Labour. It also opens its doors every six months to a group of unemployed young people between ages 18 and 24 (half of whom are young girls), who follow a programme put in place by the Ministry of Labour aimed at completing their schooling and improving their employability.
For Andrea, the main challenge in setting up her company was that recycling is a business that is usually dominated by men and managed in the informal economy. She had to introduce a new concept of recycling waste, which is based on a formal and entrepreneurial way of running the business. As a first step, she started working with public institutions from the city of Mendoza, participating in public biddings and organizing communication campaigns to sensitize the public to the need for sustainable consumption and production. She is now engaged in the elaboration of municipal regulations for handling e-waste.
The Empretec workshop was instrumental for Andrea in learning to plan and set goals on a regular basis. She came to understand what her main strengths and weaknesses were, and thanks to that she could improve her negotiating skills, which had a positive impact on a deal during a recent opportunity-seeking business trip in China. She also realized how important it was to share plans with her employees and make each of them feel like they were part of the company. Celebrations of personal and common achievements are now a habit at Reciclarg.
Reciclarg offers integrated services to decontaminate the region of Mendoza from all kinds of technological waste. It currently recycles 5 of the 7.5 tons of e-waste generated in the region. In the last three years, its turnover has increased by 300%. In 2016, the sale of sustainable products made from recycled residual materials is expected to grow by 70%, and it plans to export to Belgium as part of a development plan. If this trend continues, Reciclarg will move to a larger production plant.