A ‘win-win’ way to recycle electronics
Whirl Recycling, which is currently in its beta testing phase, accepts items they know that they can sell to their network of repairers, collectors and enthusiasts.
After making the difficult decision to close their Sydney-based electronics recycling social enterprise Arnie’s Recon, Lisa and Adrian Saunders have wasted no time planning their next step.
“1.2 million tonnes of electronics are thrown into landfill every week. So we couldn’t sit with our head in our hands for very long because we both got into this to make a difference,” Lisa told The AJN.
“With Arnie’s we saved over 5500 tonnes – it’s a drop in the bucket but it’s something. So we have to continue, it’s something we’re compelled to do.”
Enter their new social venture, Whirl Recycling, which is currently in its beta testing phase.
“What we learned from Arnie’s Recon is that recycling is a hard industry to make money on, the margins are very small. And the traditional recycling of crunching everything up and putting it back into manufacturing only works with massive machinery and a lot of infrastructure,” she said.
“One of the things we were very successful at is the reuse side, maximising the amount of items that we were able to reuse.
“Whirl focuses on reuse over recycling.”
With the new venture, the Saunders have limited the scope of electronics they will accept to items they know that they can sell to their network of repairers, collectors and enthusiasts.
“They value and they love items that are either vintage, old or just pre-loved or just pre-used. And they pay us for those items,” Lisa said.
“What we do then is we’ll actually give back to you. And the model that we’re testing right now is 50 per cent of the profits.”
People can either keep the cash, donate it to their favourite charity, elect to donate it back to Whirl to help with set-up and running costs or direct it towards Whirl’s nominated project of planting trees.
“It is a social enterprise, but what we’ve done is we’ve decided to make recycling pay for everyone involved. Adrian and I really love situations that are a win-win,” she said.
This means that a school that wants to do a recycling drive can turn it into a fundraiser, or a charity – particularly in tough times – can become a recycling hub to offset costs.
Whirl has already soft-launched with a website due to go live this week.
“We have a Facebook group, we have a small network of supporters and so we’re trialling a few things, but people are also finding us,” Lisa said.
“So, we already are taking items. Today actually at a business they had about 300 electronics that they wanted us to pick up.”
The other difference, she said, is Whirl is not bound by geographical limitations.
“The items that we’re focused on, they’re items that we can mail out because our network is actually global. There is no geographical boundary that we have,” she said.
“If you mail it to us, we’ll refund the postage out of the profits. As long as the item covers the cost of your postage, you’ll get that back.
“As we grow larger, we’ll look into sending prepaid post packages out to help with that, but you know, you can be anywhere in the world actually, and send us stuff.”
Following along on Facebook and Instagram.
Support with a donation: ko-fi.com/whirlrecycling