Old computers wait to be recycled (123RF)
Old computers wait to be recycled (123RF)

Egyptian start-up company is first to recycle e-waste

24 February 2016

An Egyptian entrepreneur is making money out of old, disused circuit boards, while also helping prevent toxic chemicals from leaching into the soil at landfill sites.

RecycloBekia, founded by Mostafa Hemdan, won a $10,000 first prize in an Egyptian programme that rewards start-ups, with his scheme to extract gold and other precious metals from electronic waste.

The company – whose name combines the word recycle with terms commonly used in Egypt by street refuse collectors – extracts gold, silver and copper as well as recyclable plastic from old components of computers, mobile phones or televisions.

Hemdan and fellow students at Tanta University – around 50 miles from Cairo - came up with the idea as there were previously no electronic recycling facilities in Egypt.

Over time toxic minerals dissolve into the soil from old electronic waste, which in turn contaminates the environment.

The company collects, dismantles and sorts electronic waste before shipping parts to Germany to be recycled as there are no factories capable of extracting the valuable metals in Egypt.

RecycloBekia sends vehicles to pick up waste from organisations and offers participants a "green partner" certificate.

The Egypt Independent newspaper reported Orange, Intel, Oracle and ExxonMobil were organisations that supply electronic waste to RecycloBekia.

Middle East newspapers reported last year that while globally around 15-20% of e-waste (electronic waste) is recycled, this figure is only 5% in the Middle East.

While there are other companies in the region advertising themselves as electronic recycling firms, these mainly specialise in ensuring data on used hard drives is destroyed.

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