11 Jun 2018
Zebbug, Malta
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management

As humans evolve, their dependence on electronics and nifty gadgets has proved costly. The lack of international protocol on handling e-waste is taking a hefty toll on populations around the globe with China collecting 70% of the world’s e-waste. The hazards can vary from high levels of lead in children’s blood like in Guiya, China’s e-waste processing town, to polybrominated diphenyl ethers being found in California’s peregrine falcon eggs. Armed with this knowledge, Brian Cardona toured his country, Malta, as well as other European countries to salvage the waste and sustainably upcycle or recycle it.

“We recover the electronic waste, then separate and dismantle it, then recover the precious metals,” says Cardona, Founder of ElectroWaste Malta Ltd. The seven-year-old company was started solely by Cardona, a qualified component level technician, and a recycling expert.

What’s behind ElectroWaste Malta Ltd:

Cardona’s business wasn’t always in full glory; the company found it difficult to monetize its outcome. “We had to show results. Only then, other companies started knocking on our door,” Cardona adds. “We received calls to apply for European funds and similar opportunities.” Cardona’s zeal does not stop at that. The entrepreneur started his own non-profit association to represent recyclers of other businesses.

Cardona who is stationed in Zebbug, Central Malta, with the facility based in Bulebel, aspires to expand overseas; namely Morocco and Tunisia. “I already have a company called Refab LIGHT BLUE CORPORATION LTD that recycles clothes, and through it, we export a lot of materials to both Tunisia and Morocco,” explains Cardona.

The details of how ElectroWaste Malta Ltd operates:

Handling electronic waste is no cakewalk. It can lead to inhaling toxic fumes and even causing irreversible damage in children. In Cardona’s line of business, his team is clued in. “Once we receive electronic waste, we sort it to see what kind of waste to determine how to handle it and which procedure to take to lessen its hazards,” Cardona remarks. “Then we get permits from official authorities to make a transfer from one place (client) to another (our facility) and do a CN number and a transfer note with all the client’s details on it, then send a copy to the authorities.”

Only then does Cardona’s team transfer the waste to his facility, which all have codes depending on the waste’s type. “After that, the separation and dismantling take place to sort out the different parts, then load them in containers to be exported or go to another part of our factory to extract the precious metals,” adds Cardona.

The precious metals are then usually sold to other companies in Malta and Germany. “We have partnerships in Germany and Kenya, and are looking to expand beyond that,” says Cardona.

Cooperative government?

To help develop a popular attitude towards electronic waste recycling, governments tend to adopt certain protocols. However, in Malta, talks and schemes to bring that out of the laboratory and to real life are still in place. “We have EU stakeholders and on a global level, the EU is moving fast towards responsible handling of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), though Malta is yet to implement that,” says Cardona.

Mauro Anastasio on behalf of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) expressed his concern over the lack of ambition within the EU rules but said that “their successful implementation will help governments consolidate this progress with benefits for the people and society as a whole.”

Another point the rules missed is “the remaining unclear demarcation of producers’ financial obligations, which could potentially be extended beyond producers’ roles and responsibilities at the national level.” Something Cardona is well aware of in his line of work and in his dealings with other businesses.

ElectroWaste’s team of 10 people operate over a 1,200-square-meter facility, whereas Refab works on a 600-square-meter plot.

The unrelenting businessman is in the process of launching a project where he can help getting more people to recycle their electronics. “The idea is to send people packets where they can put their mobiles or tablets inside, and then send them back on the address listed on the back,” explains Cardona. The notion came to him after he realized there are no particular landfills for e-waste.

 

 

 

To learn more about ElectroWaste Malta Ltd, check their website and Facebook page.

Photos: Courtesy of ElectroWaste Malta Ltd.

Eman is an editor, and a finance and startup ecosystem journalist.Eman El-Sherbiny
This entrepreneur is tackling electronic waste in Malta one gadget at a time | The Switchers
ElectroWaste Malta Ltd Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Waste Managemnt
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