OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

The Recycling Network - UPDATED

A networking based program that collects and dispatches your e-waste (and rewards you for that).

Photo of DeletedUser
20 18

Written by DeletedUser

The idea’s main goal is to create recycling awareness and effective results by bringing together three of nowadays’ trend topics: gaming, sustainable development, and social networking.

The Recycling Network is a tool that put all these aspects together. It starts with a main sponsor (it might be the bank, in this occasion), which settle the ‘recycling board’: a cell responsible to manage the whole project. Together with the managers, we’ll have some other partners supporting the project, the “silver sponsors”.

The Recycling Network is available as a web portal and as a mobile app. You build your profile and become a user, just like a regular social network. Once you have an old electronic device bothering you at home, just take it to to an affiliated depot: the website and the app have an interactive map based on your location showing the nearest to you and also a full list of them. Once you get your e-waste there, its entry is registered by scanning the product bar code or inputting its serial number; and you start collecting points according to the product discarded. For example, for a pair of used batteries delivered, you’ll be rewarded with 5 points; for an outdated cellphone, 15 points.

UPDATE: Based on a discussion with Helena and Paul, to become a Reciclyng Network member, you build your profile attached to existing social networks (Twitter, Facebbok - like Song Pop does for instance) and become a regular user. The interaction between people is given through the existing platforms, with the Recycling Network working as a plugin - this way, we leave the social networking management to the experts and focus on getting the project logistics done.

These  points are given in three different criteria, according to the sustainability tripod: the environmental issues, economic growth and social development. For instance, how much of hazardous materials are kept away from the environment; how much did the correct disposal saved from public expenditure or generated as an income to people assisted by the project and how many people were benefited, may they be students are now able to do Internet research, a printer-needing hospital or a benefited handcrafting community.
A roll with several products ratings is available online and your score appears on your profile page. The scoring criteria also guides the Recycling Network managers to forward the e-waste more accurately: a product with high potential for handicraft, naturally takes a different path then a device with high amount of mercury. And since every waste is registered at the depot, you can keep trace of each one, being aware of its destination.

And what do I do with the points I get from recycling?
Besides making the correct disposal of household e-waste fun an engaging, at this time our silver sponsors get in action. As companies seeking to attract new customers, to reinforce the brand image and to make this a fairer world (why not?) - their role is to provide the rewards you may exchange for your points. Among them, you could choose to exchange your points for planting a tree, sponsoring school for a poor kid, or donating a new book to the public library. It all depends on how many points you have. And of course, you can give yourself a little something: by having sponsors from the most different market shares, there is an assorted range of rewards: you could choose a concert ticket, a day at the spa or maybe a nice cup of coffee...

Where do we get?
One of the main points of this idea is that the recycling culture would start to develop naturally and gradually, without throwing to people a bunch of information pr giving some “we’re-all-responsible-for-this-situation” speech. As time goes by, people will be more aware of the environmental, economical and social effects our consumerism culture causes and how we can improve our society by taking some advantage of it.
A social and environmental responsible economical growth is encouraged, and by using a gamified recycling process as kick off, we might get a better place to live and have fun ate the same time.

UPDATE: Where do I dump my e-waste? And how do I know my e-waste will arrive at is final destination?
When we talk about the “affiliated depots” there is some possibilities we can work on. For small standard items (batteries, lightbulbs) we can use reverse vending machines (thanks for the insight hese, Bassem!) as seen here ( and here ( These machines can be located at partner companies (supermarkets, malls, stores) and public spaces or buildings (squares, metro stations, post offices) so they would be easily reachable. For more complex items which require some analysis concerning work condition an so (such as laptops, cell phones, cd players) we can assign a small area at our partners (the silver sponsors or the above mentioned companies and organizations) or even at the bank agencies prepared to collect the disposals. An employee with access to the project’s integrated system should do for a start.
As mentioned byJohnandPaul, having an independent auditor would be interesting to evaluate the whole process: from the disposal at the machines or depots through all the transportation logistics until the items arrival at the final destinations. The Recycling Network could use some existing certification program like the e-Stewards or the R2 from EPA or even set a new one through partnerships with well-known organizations like national environmental or accreditation boards, which can givethe program the credibility needed.

UPDATE: How about the receiver partner, what would be the criteria to forward the e-waste collected?
First, all our receiving partners will be able to make a list containing products of interest. That would go to the system database. Also, when an e-waste which is not on anyone list arrives, every partner gets a notification, and then one can claim for the newest disposal.
Once there is a new e-waste entry, the system presents all the possible destinations, ordered by the receiver needs and geographic location, saving costs on transportation. When a partner gets an e-waste, it goes to the end of the queue. With every donation being registered on the system, it’s possible to always keep a trace to where the disposals have gone and who is the next partner on the queue to get one.

How does your concept safeguard human health and protect our environment?

It helps to give the e-waste the most secure and appropriate disposal - encouraging recycling and reuse. Besides that, it keeps outdated products that aren’t really waste from being discarded and reduces the demand upon landfills.

Where does your concept fit into the lifecycle of electronic devices?

The device ‘regular’ lifecycle is improved: after the item is discarded it might take different paths - it can be recycled, transformed or simply have another cycle by being handed to an user in need.

What steps could be taken today to start implementing your concept?

An initial prototype can be build by setting some neighbourhood collection centers, delivering the electronics to a beta group of partners at a small scale.

What kinds of resources will be needed to fully implement and scale your concept?

A special board is needed to manage the whole project, sponsoring the idea together with other partners. Also, it's necessary to build partnerships with the organizations or communities that will take the e-waste. The major investment is on the logistics: settle the depots, transport the e-waste from there to the final destination, provide the system and equipment to register each waste entry and program the website and the mobile app. Also, there is a work of analysis and categorization, to make possible to take each e-waste to its best destination and rank them with the points that will be exchanged for rewards.

My Virtual Team

Paul Reader Bassem Bitar John Pujol Helena

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. How much of a social or environmental impact will this concept have on discarded electronics or e-waste?

This concept could have significant social or environmental impact. - 62.5%

It's unclear how much social or environmental impact this concept will have. - 37.5%

This concept would have little social or environmental impact. - 0%

2. How well does this concept help you or others understand how electronic items are designed, built, reused, recycled or thrown away?

Very well: it makes the entire electronics life cycle easier to understand. - 25%

Pretty well: it could help people better understand the electronics life cycle but it needs more detail or information. - 62.5%

Not so well: it does not significantly help people better understand the electronics life cycle. - 12.5%

3. How appealing do you believe this concept would be to investors (businesses, banks, lenders, venture capitalists and others)?

Very appealing: this is an idea that investors would get excited about. - 37.5%

Potentially appealing: more work is needed to flesh out how the concept works, what it would cost and who would fund it. - 62.5%

Not so appealing: this does not seem like a concept that would get investors excited. - 0%

4. How challenging would it be to implement and scale this concept across geographies, cultures and languages? (Hint: think about resources like money, time, partnerships, or other inputs needed for implementation and scaling)

Not very challenging. - 0%

Somewhat challenging. - 87.5%

Very challenging. - 12.5%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world. - 25%

I liked it but preferred others. - 75%

It didn't get me overly excited. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Fei Xin

Great concept! The recycling network is a really good idea to help people recycling e-waste. It it can be a mobile App, and then more easier to do recycling. I am looking forward to hear more development about that.

View all comments