Chile’s Recycla takes a fresh look at electronic waste disposal

The creative recycling initiative made the list of 12 finalists in the BBC World Challenge, thanks to a double commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

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Chile is a country on the move, enjoying sustained economic growth for over a decade and one of the region’s highest standards of living – and that adds up to a lot of electronic waste.

But now an innovative Chilean environmental firm, Recycla, has chosen to address the problem with a community-based effort, launching the first and only initiative in Latin America to tackle the issue of “e-waste” hand-in-hand with the issue of social responsibility.

The groundbreaking environmental organization caught the eye of environmentalists around the world, and now Recycla is in the running for this year’s prestigious BBC World Challenge, competing against other pioneering organizations from around the world.

According to Recycla, over eight million cell phones and more than a million computers are discarded in the “Silicon Valley of Latin America” each year. At its factory in Pudahuel, Recycla dismantles the valuable – and toxic – heavy metals found in the disused technology, enabling them to be reused in the next generation of technology.

Individuals can contract Recycla to pick up used cell phones from their homes, while businesses can contract the firm to manage all their e-waste, earning a green seal for the company in the process.

The organization functions on the “Triple Bottom Line” model, which calculates a business’ success in terms of its profits, its environmental impact and its social responsibility.

One of Recycla’s most acclaimed features is its incorporation of people with criminal records into the production process. As one employee explains, “I am very grateful for this opportunity at Recycla. It’s a one-in-a-million chance, and I’ve tried to make the most of it by working very hard.”

The organization also prides itself on creating “Green Jobs,” saying on its website that Recycla is attracting “young professionals who are looking for meaningful work and want to support the community, coming from the best universities in the country and abroad.”

To watch the video about Recycla and vote in the BBC World Challenge, visit the website – voting closes November 11 at midnight (GMT).