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Dubai firm pays customers to donate e-waste

Sets goal of recycling over 200,000 electronic items this year

The Green Foundation says that mobile phones are the most common devices donated to their e-waste recycling programmes in the Middle East.
The Green Foundation says that mobile phones are the most common devices donated to their e-waste recycling programmes in the Middle East.

With only 5% of all waste being recycled in the Middle East, Dubai-based recycling firm The Green Foundation (TGF) is focusing on the burgeoning problem of e-waste by setting a goal of recycling more than 200,000 electronic items through its business this year.

The Green Foundation, which was set up just last year, is behind the popular ‘cash for mobiles' and ‘cash for laptops' recycling initiatives at Emax stores across the GCC that rewards customers with cash for their old and unwanted devices.

CEO and founder Dominic Gothard revealed that feedback from the programme has been "excellent" so far with the most commonly donated items being mobile phones and smartphones.

Next month the firm will be introducing ‘cash for electronics' at Emax stores, which will offer money in return for donations of MP3 players, game consoles, digital cameras and other electronics.

A manager at EnviroServe, a government-endorsed e-scrap recycling and management firm, recently called for more to be done in terms of e-waste laws and greater accountability in the United Arab Emirates. Gothard however believes it should be looked at as a more global concern.

"E-Waste is certainly not an exclusive UAE issue. Currently only about 14% of the total electronic waste globally is recycled in a responsible manner, so there is a long way to go for all regions including the UAE and Middle East," said Gothard. "There are regions that have introduced legislation banning the use of landfills, for example the UK, for electrical items that has certainly had an increase on responsible recycling. Looking at this method it has assisted the UK to increase recycling and thus help the environment; the same effect could certainly be felt here."

TGF claims to be the only regional recycling company for all powered items and guarantees that every item received is reused and recycled, with nothing going to landfills. The firm however admits there have been difficulties in trying to promote recycling and highlight e-waste concerns in the UAE

"Our main challenges are education as to the value of used goods. Particularly in the Northern Emirates we have to manage expectations that an item that was for example three thousand AED a few years ago may only have a certain value today," added Gothard.

The Green Foundation currently operates in the United Kingdom, Middle East, Europe, Australia and Hong Kong. It has worked with over 300 registered charities and raised more than $4.5 million funding through recycling.