China: E-waste Application turning Trash to Cash

Innovation Areas: BIG DATA
Stage: Early stage

innovative solutions to trash to cash through mobile phone app

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The problem addressed

China is one of the top 2 producers of electrical goods waste (“e-waste”) in the world, producing over 3.5 million tons of e- waste in 2011. The country has a thriving black market in illegal e-waste dumping, which harms the environment and human health through the unsafe disposal of chemicals and metals. This situation is in part created because most consumers don’t know how to dispose of e-waste correctly.

The intervention

We worked with internet company Baidu to develop an app called “Baidu Recycle”, which links end-users to legally certified e-waste disposal companies. By connecting the two parties, the app allows end users to schedule certified collection of their obsolete home appliances for safe disposal and recycling. The app is the first product from the UNDP-Baidu Big Data Joint Lab, which serves as an engine to identify valuable data, formulate and implement development strategies.

 

The partners

Baidu, China’s largest internet service provider

Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China

Results/outcomes

App version 1.0 has been produced, launched and was used by over 100,000 individuals by the end of 2014, with total searches for the Baidu Recycle App numbering 50,000 per day. The launch of the App was covered by over 50 domestic and international media outlets, in which it was also highly praised – “the Baidu Recycle links the consumer and legal recycling companies, providing a one-stop platform where e-waste can be recycled and disposed of conveniently, environmentally and safely. Created out of the newly-founded UNDP-Baidu Big Data Joint Lab, the App serves as an innovative approach to this global development issue” – Sina.com. Version 2.0 of the App is currently under development and will expand the number of disposal companies involved to boost collection capacity.

Lessons identified

The idea matters – find an idea which has mass appeal as well as being beneficial, which can also utilise all parties’ best strengths.

Mutual understanding is the key in collaborating with private sector – it often takes a long time to build a successful relationship and requires thorough understanding of the opposite party’s platforms, products and corporate culture.

Persevere – keep in contact and never give up! The best ideas can pop up over a cup of coffee. Get out there and meet with people, brainstorm crazy ideas and never ever lose heart. If one idea doesn’t work, the next one might.

Contact person

Xi (Louise) Li : xi.li@undp.org

Related materials

Overview: Turning E-Trash into Cash


Budget

$75,000 USD



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