The Golden Circle Award for SNEW, which provides a new opportunity for devices and people

New opportunities for depreciated IT equipment and people. That is the goal of SNEW. Because they do not let anything of value go to waste at SNEW. “We need to handle both raw materials and people more carefully than we do now,” says Martijn van Engelen, founder of SNEW. The province of Noord-Brabant today presented the Golden Circle Award to SNEW for its contribution to the circular economy.

SNEW specializes in the recycling of electronics, ie giving discarded equipment a new and different life where possible. According to Van Engelen, discarded ICT and telecommunications equipment is anything but waste. After a renovation, it is usable again, and if not, it is always a source of valuable parts and raw materials to give new life to other devices. In addition to recycling, we also have many relief services to keep equipment in use for as long as possible. This is how we go from replacement to expansion. Only what can actually no longer be used goes for recycling.

Global E-waste Monitor estimates that electronic waste worldwide has increased by 21% to no less than 53.6 million tonnes in the last 5 years. In addition, the monitor predicts that it will increase to 74 million tonnes by 2030, a doubling in 16 years. Only 17.4% of all e-waste was collected and recycled in 2019. In 2021, SNEW collected almost 55 thousand ICT products, of which almost 28 thousand were sold for recycling. In addition, SNEW has recycled over 30 tonnes of material.

Anne-Marie Spierings, Commissioner for the Province of Noord-Brabant, is also more than honored to present the Golden Circle Award to SNEW. “With their boundless commitment to giving depreciated equipment and people at a distance to the labor market a chance, they show that they are not giving in to a challenge in the circular economy.”

Recycle first, recycle later

According to Van Engelen, raw materials are always lost through recycling. “And it is often raw materials that we already lack, such as rare earth metals, that are used in the production of mobile phones and computers.” Thanks to a warehouse filled with collected parts, SNEW is able to maintain old equipment. Think of old telephone exchanges still in use in the prison system for security reasons.

Of the more than fifty employees in the Boxtel company, half were originally classified as people with ‘distance to the labor market’. “Like the equipment, we give them a second chance because their value must not be lost and they deserve a fair chance in the job market,” says Van Engelen. But it is not always without problems. Van Engelen: “Our employees get a two-month trial period. This usually goes well. But when they got a permanent contract, absenteeism increased. It turned out that the firm contract and the recognition of their abilities often evoked many emotions and traumas. We now have five job coaches who help our employees where necessary. ”

Pioneering: SNEW Ghana

Since 2018, SNEW has also been active in Ghana to provide local people with low-threshold access to ICT and telecommunications equipment. Fully equipped ‘ICT laboratories’ are donated to schools in disadvantaged communities and IT training is offered. For example, residents are being introduced to the Internet for the first time, and young people are learning to use computers at an early age.

And as the icing on the cake, all of this has resulted in SNEW achieving an ‘Economy for The Common Good’ (ECG) certification. ‘The Economy for The Common Good’ argues for a more ethical economic model in which welfare for people and the environment becomes the ultimate goal of business. Van Engelen: “We are extremely proud that we have obtained this certificate. For our partners, this means in particular that they have the assurance that they are dealing with an ethical and sustainable company.”

Golden Circle Award

The winner of the Golden Circle is automatically nominated for the Brabant Circular Innovation Top 20. In this way, we build a network that makes a circular economy normal in Brabant.

Photo: John Claassen

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