By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio,
Senior Writer for Special Features and Content
Nowadays, technology plays a significant role in various aspects of our daily lives. It allows us to connect with others, work and learn, and access services like banking and healthcare online. However, we still require physical devices to utilize these digital services. As new advancements continue to arise, old technologies are often replaced to make way for newer ones.
Unfortunately, this may lead to an issue regarding electronic waste (e-waste). According to the United Nations (UN), discarded electrical and electronic equipment can contain both hazardous and valuable materials. The UN’s Global E-Waste Monitor for 2020 revealed that the Philippines is one of the leading producers of e-waste in Southeast Asia, with an average of 3.9 kilograms of e-waste per person in 2019.
However, this data was collected prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis prompted a shift towards digitalization due to limited mobility in efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Consequently, numerous organizations and individuals increased their utilization of digital technologies.
As the use of these devices became more prevalent, it opened up a chance to create a recycling solution for disposing of unused technology, specifically in Australian households. This resulted in the establishment of ZOLO, a tech recycling startup in Australia in 2020.
Due to the impact of COVID, there has been a higher demand for technology and a lack of options for households to dispose of their old devices. This realization inspired us to start our business, and it motivated us to further investigate the issue,” explained Franz Phillip Siasat, CEO and Founder of ZOLO, in an interview with BusinessWorld.
Started out with a Facebook campaign to encourage Australians to declutter for good and going house to house in Sydney to gather these old technologies, ZOLO has grown as a purpose-led startup trusted by brands such as Canva, Dyson, and Bank Australia for tech recycling.
Mr. Siasat stated that in Australia, they have developed a method for companies to dispose of their technology in a manner that is environmentally friendly, safe, and beneficial for the company.
The company ZOLO plans to expand their services to the Philippines by establishing a technology recycling center in Santa Rosa, Laguna this year. This move will bring about numerous advantages for businesses and communities in the country by implementing their technology recycling solution.
The company promotes sustainability by adopting a circular strategy – rather than disposing of technology, they refurbish it to extend its lifespan. Additionally, they employ a military-grade data destruction method to guarantee that any sensitive information on these devices is permanently erased and cannot be recovered.
The company developed a solution for businesses’ IT teams to manage their electronic waste. The Zolo Single Touch simplifies this process by allowing businesses to upload their e-waste inventory, leaving the complex tasks to Zolo.
The software also includes a function that allows businesses to monitor their environmental impact, such as live information on the amount of e-waste diverted from landfills and an estimation of carbon emissions avoided, among other factors.
Companies have the potential to gain even more from the rebate program, which enables them to make the most of their eligible outdated devices by using the funds towards acquiring new technologies.
“It’s a first for Australia, and it’s also a first for the Philippines. I am thrilled to announce this launch, and our partners in the Philippines are equally excited to introduce it to their teams.” Mr. Siasat stated.
Furthermore, ZOLO’s technology recycling program not only benefits businesses, but also promotes greater access to technology for individuals.
“Our passion and effective business strategy involves providing opportunities for others to access technology. This is achieved by collaborating with companies, collecting their outdated technology, and recycling it to create a platform for more affordable technology access,” stated Mr. Siasat.
However, the ZOLO Founder likely never could have foreseen that their efforts would contribute to addressing the issue of the digital divide, had they been asked years ago.
“I believe the appeal of our platform lies in the market we will soon enter, namely the Philippines,” he expressed. “There are numerous chances for us to introduce innovative remedies to potential issues in order to fulfill our company’s primary objective.”
“Although we are a company, we utilize our platform and business to make a positive impact. This is also our approach when collaborating with other partners,” he elaborated.
Mr. Siasat expressed his excitement for developing partnerships and fostering community involvement as ZOLO prepares to launch in the Philippines.