[Jhoanna] Jhoanna Rosales is an environmental engineer and an entrepreneur. Whilst she was working for the waste collection system in Quito, she noticed that electronics did not received any proper management and were mainly land-fielded or burnt. She decided to investigate on recycling processes that were in place in Europe and in the United-States at that time, and tried to replicate them in Quito through the launching of a pre-processing recycling plant in 2010: Vertmonde.
[The Plant] At Vertmonde, Jhoanna and her employees collect electronics from two main bodies: the government and the private sector. Each electronic is weighted, registered and then destroyed by hand. Components of a product are finally separated prior to being sold to an industry that will be able to recycle them and to give them a new life.
Although the process might appear simple, identifying all items that compose a specific product is a hard task for recyclers. Two printers that look alike are in fact composed of many different materials, and recyclers are not provided with any instructions on how to recycle each of them. Vertmonde is working with the United Nation's Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) initiative to put pressure on manufacturers to design items that can be easily recycled, negotiations are on but there is still a long way to go.
[Positive Environmental Impacts] When not properly recycled, electronic waste can become highly hazardous for human health and the environment. At Vertmonde, Jhoanna and her team constantly work towards collecting more materials and finding new ways to process them in order to avoid heavy pollution from e-waste in the country. By doing so, they also avoid the additional extraction of fossil fuel energies and metals as materials are reintegrated in new production processes.
[Issues] Despite all the environmental benefits brought by the activities of Vermonde, the government has not been properly regulating the e-waste recycling market in Ecuador to make it efficient.
1. Companies are not yet obligated to recycle their electronics.
2. Recyclers still have to pay for most of the electronic wastes they collect (90%) and for recycling
3. Consumers are not informed on how and where to dispose of their electronics.
In light of existing systems worldwide, the government of Ecuador should put in place a program where manufacturers and recyclers along with the Ministry of Environment work together to create a national fund used to cover recycling expenses and to launch impacting communication campaigns. An adequate recycling system is indeed one where the recycling cost of a product is included as a tax in the buying price and the informed consumer is responsible for giving a second life to the product he or she acquires.