In Spain, La Hormiga Verde repairs old electronics every year, disassembles them into components for resale and creates furniture from this waste.
In the city of Villafranca de los Barros, they recycle about 99.5% of old TVs and computers, which is about 1,200 metric tons of waste, according to Bloomberg.
The company was founded by Ignacio Garcia when he lost his job as an industrial engineer in the biomass industry.
The very existence of the business points to the problem, as old TVs, computers and mobile phones are accumulating everywhere.
According to the Global Partnership on e-Waste Statistics, the amount of e-waste that poses a threat to health and the environment will increase to 75 million tonnes by 2030 from 53.6 million tonnes in 2019.
La Hormiga Verde's main source of income is the sale of components and raw materials, but the company also receives government subsidies as a registered special employment center, as 32 of the 34 employees have a disability. The company's total revenue in 2021 was about € 800,000, and in 2022 should increase by 35%. Garcia plans to expand the company in Spain and Portugal.
The staff at La Hormiga Verde's 2,200-square-meter dismantling line works at individual stations to dismantle old copiers, microwave ovens, batteries and other items using hand tools and specialized mechanical equipment. Every day they extract about 1,000 kilograms of plastic and iron and about 300 kilograms of copper.
Some employees turn these materials into products, such as making ground plastic tables, stools from recycled washing machine parts, and flower pots from cables.
Workers also recycle about 500,000 kg of damaged solar panels each year, dismantling them to extract raw materials or restoring them for resale or use. Functional components, such as printed circuit boards, are sent to another company for recovery.
Computers in good condition are being restored to "social computers", which sell to non-profit institutions or low-income people for around € 70. Vintage and rare items are put up for sale in the company's showroom or on the Internet.
La Hormiga Verde has about 400 collection points and its own logistics for transporting discarded items. Also, people are increasingly delivering electronics directly to the company
"For La Hormiga Verde, this means that the more pounds we gain, the more jobs we create," says Garcia.
It will be recalled that Europe wants to protect people from planned obsolescence and greenwashing.