National Energy Globe Award Chile (overall winner)

Submitted by: RECYCLA Chile
Implemented country: Chile
Title: Solving the E-Waste Problem

Electronic devices are ubiquitous. And whatever is no longer needed ends up in a landfill. As early as 2003 this problem could be no longer ignored in Chile. It also came with soil and groundwater contaminated by mercury, cadmium and other polychlorinated impurities. The throw-away numbers in Chile are alarming: More than 8 million cell phones and 1 million computers are thrown away each year. By 2020 this figure will probably go up to 4.7 million computers per year. In the Americas, electronic scrap makes up 2 per cent of the entire waste, but 70 per cent of all toxic waste.

Enter Fernando Nilo. In 2003, he organized RECYCLA Chile, the first social enterprise in Latin America that recycled electronic waste. The biggest obstacles were a total lack of legal framework conditions for e-waste disposal, not to mention any supporting environmental laws. Still, Fernando Nilo began building a plant for disassembling e-waste. From zero to going at full steam and with the technology that was then available. This was followed by the construction of a collection and a take-back system for worn-out devices. RECYCLA Chile is not only green but also remarkably social. For example, the company hires people who are about to be released from prison. Such workers receive training while they are still in prison and are then given a permanent job. Fernando Nilo believes that human potential should never be wasted.

Today, RECYCLA Chile is unique in Latin America. Annually more than 970 tons of e-waste are recycled. That is nearly 5 per cent of the entire electronic waste. Through Fernando Nilo and the pressure he exerted, new environmental laws were passed and Latin America created its first “green“product label for products with return guarantee. EPSON was the first company in Chile to offer this label. Now Fernando Nilo is working on finalizing ISO 9000 and 14000 certifications. By the end of the year he wants an international “social impact reporting system” to be developed. RECYCLA is also in the course of signing a partnership contract with Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Creating awareness is an important topic as well. To this end, Nilo came up with the “Super Heroes Program”: RECYCLA MAN and RECYCLA WOMAN as recycling messengers that give presentations on the environment at schools and universities.

“We want so scale up our dream to the world! We sincerely hope the Energy Globe Award will come to us and help us conquer a greener future”.

Fernando Nilo