China’s first carbon neutral hotel, the URBN Hotel, Shanghai, and widely acclaimed and reputable fresh food restaurant chain, Element Fresh, have confirmed their participation in Green Initiatives’ recently launched [WE] Project.
The collaboration is a feather in the cap for Green Initiatives with the two organizations also being the earliest supporters of Shanghai’s first community wide clothing recycling project that was launched by Green Initiatives in December 2014.
After an initial month of pilot, the [WE] Project was soft-launched at the Eco Design Fair 2016, Shanghai’s leading sustainability focused product and innovation fair, in early June. The project was officially launched at ‘Waste in the Digital Era’ Green Drinks Forum at Haworth Furniture on 23 June 2016. Presentations by Netspring, Greenpeace East Asia, ASIG Design and TES-AMM on the digital waste problem only further highlighted the relevance of the WE Project.
The project, developed in close collaboration with Netspring Social Enterprise, aims to provide the community with a convenient, transparent, and environmentally safe system for recycling used electronics. The project accepts a wide range of electronic items, including commonly discarded items like chargers, CDs/DVDs, mobile phones, blenders, headphones, wires, etc. The collected items are sent to TES-AMM’s recycling facility in Jiading. TES-AMM, the official recycling partner on the project, is a reputed IT waste management company with headquarters in Singapore.
China produces over 6 million tons of used electronics per year, with less than 28 per cent of it being safely recycled, according to a report by the United Nations University. While over 70 per cent of the global e-waste ends up in various parts of China, most of it is unethically burnt by individuals through an informal process called ‘cherry-picking’, where precious metals are extracted by burning them openly. Unethical recycling and burning of waste not just creates environmental pollution but also affects the health of the individuals engaging in such activities.
E-waste is thus a social, economic and environmental issue on a global scale, which is why the project holds a unique significance to Green Initiatives’ mission of reducing China’s environmental pollution through establishing collaborations with local and international organizations.
URBN hotel, that has already received international and local media attention for their environmentally sustainable design, was upbeat about the partnership. According to Fergus MacDougall, URBN’s General Manager, “We are proud to be continuously associated with Green Initiatives. The organisation has a long history with the URBN hotel after it’s launch (as Green Drinks China) at our hotel in January 2009. We feel proud to see the organization grow to where it is today. The WE Project will only be one of the many activities that we hope to engage with Green Initiatives in the near future.”
WE collection boxes will be placed at URBN Hotel and select Element Fresh locations across the city during the month of August. Detailed directions and contact information of all these locations would be provided on a map on the WE Project page. The community would be able to visit the location nearest to their home or office and conveniently dispose-off their electronic items.
As Scott Minoie, Founder of Element Fresh, sums it up, “As a business with a reasonable circle of influence in the community we take it as our responsibility to support environmentally beneficial activities such as the WE Project. We hope to continuously engage with the Green Initiatives team to increase awareness on the e-waste problem, and provide our locations for as e-waste collection drop-off points. There is no doubt that responsible e-waste collection, disposal and recycling is the need of the hour, and we are glad to be a part of the solution. “