While 2022 was a step forward in achieving most of our targets and impactful work, 2023 was equally a year in which we experienced significant progress as we strived to execute our commitments towards sustainable e-waste management in Northern Ghana. The team worked hard, especially this year, to project our ideas and work in the international space while continuing to work on our domestic projects. We gained renowned recognition from TechCrunch, which named us one of the top sustainability companies. We participated in the Africa Environmental Health and Pollution Management Regional Meeting hosted by the World Bank as one of the SMEs innovating within the e-waste management space. Significantly, we have welcomed reputable stakeholders in electronic waste to our space during the year whom we are looking forward to working with.
AppCyclers is an innovative e-waste management startup that leverages web technology, data analysis, and community sensitization programmes to ensure the safe disposal and management of e-waste. AppCyclers’ flagship product is a web-based platform that digitizes the e-waste collection process by providing an integrated digital marketplace for sourcing and purchasing recyclable electronic materials.
Our vision is to become a global leader in sustainable e-waste management, pioneering innovative solutions that drive the circular economy, foster local innovation, empower communities, and promote inclusivity. We envision a world where electronic waste is responsibly managed, minimizing environmental impact and maximizing social and economic benefits for all.
Sustainability in Circularity: We are committed to sustainability within the circular economy. We strive to create a closed-loop system for e-waste management, reducing waste and maximizing the reuse and recycling of electronic materials.
Local Innovation: We foster local innovation, bringing digital technology into e-waste management, and creating a formalized local ecosystem related to e-waste. Our goal is to drive innovation within our community and region.
Community Engagement: We actively engage with our community through sensitization programs, awareness campaigns, and educational initiatives. We believe in the power of community involvement to promote responsible e-waste management.
Inclusivity: We prioritize inclusivity in all our efforts. We aim to make e-waste management accessible and beneficial to a diverse range of stakeholders. Inclusivity is at the heart of our mission to create a positive impact.
THIS YEAR’S IMPACT
E-Waste Awareness Initiative
We started the year with our flagship project, the Edu-Waste Radio Tour, to continue our community awareness engagement on electronic waste and environmental sustainability. This year, we invested in volunteers interested in environmental sustainability and climate change to take on roles. The initiative proves our incessant commitment to community involvement in solving the problem of e-waste. In implementation, we trained over 20 selected volunteers on basic knowledge of e-waste and its negative implications on human health and the environment, climate change communication, and advocacy strategies. We held a series of mock-up sessions to create familiarity among volunteers for the radio advocacy. These equipped the team to achieve engagement by enlightening about 1000 listeners across 8 radio stations in Tamale (Filla FM, Bishara Radio, Justice FM, Tawasul Radio, Gbambu FM, etc.) within 8 weeks. Indeed, our volunteers showed their massive dedication to this project, which was reflected in the outcome.
In our continuous effort to foster upcycling and repurposing of electronic waste, we launched a new product by transforming computer and TV motherboards into building blocks depicting a city and its networks, as well as an Africa Map. Our goal here is to use art as a catalyst to change the narrative of how we perceive waste and to instigate a shift in mindset and attitude. In that light, we promote sustainability through the reuse of electronics, giving them new life and reducing environmental impact.
As one of the celebrated days at AppCyclers, we commemorated the International E-Waste Day by embarking on an information session with two public high schools in Tamale, Choggu Demonstration J.H.S. and Sakasaka J.H.S. To support our belief that e-waste education is a catalyst for change, we engaged over 300 students in open discussions and assessed their thoughts about electronic waste. It was a fruitful discussion, and we concluded by asking students to inform their parents to be responsible for their waste to protect themselves, their families, the community, and the environment from e-waste toxicity.
Lastly, we organized a webinar in collaboration with the Green Africa Youth Organisation (GAYO) to facilitate interaction and convey the ideas of professionals and experts in this ecosystem to our community. The webinar, themed “Empowering Youth for Sustainable E-waste Management and Greentech Innovation,” was aimed at highlighting the significant contributions the youth can make through empowerment and inclusion in sustainable waste management. The event had experienced panels in the industry with reps from UNITAR, Good Point Recycling Inc., and Mountain Research Institute who shared great insights on the theme, benefiting over 20 youth in attendance.
In our bid to increase the collection rate of e-waste in Africa from 1% to 30% by 2030, we are leveraging a web-based platform that digitizes the e-waste collection process by providing an integrated digital marketplace for sourcing and purchasing recyclable electronic materials. We launched the “Keyboard Collection Campaign” in partnership with Good Point Recycling Inc., targeting 1000 pieces of waste PS1/PS2 keyboards for reuse and repurpose. The objective of this campaign was to prevent the harmful disposal of this waste into the environment and to decrease the emission of over 674 kg of greenhouse gas. In the first half of the year, we made strides in the collection of about 200 pieces of PS1/2 keyboards.
However, with our collection service through our digital platform, strategic partnerships with businesses and institutions, drop-off points, and phone-in calls, we collected over 45 tons of e-waste with 60% being IT equipment, 10% being large household and small appliances, 5% being batteries, and 25% being refurbished for reuse.
The year brought us a couple of recognitions from various renowned international institutions that acknowledge our work in contributing to sustainable e-waste management. In April, the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) named us the startup of the month. This recognition was a testament to our unwavering commitment to promoting sustainable practices and managing e-waste responsibly. Upon recognition, our founder was invited to a roundtable discussion as a speaker at this year’s ISC3 Spotlight series. The event was collaboratively organized by ISC3 and Startup Lounge Africa to bring startups in e-waste to light in Ghana. Our founder shared his insights and expertise on the actions taken to promote and implement sustainable chemistry solutions for e-waste across different stakeholders in Ghana.
We seized the opportunity to join the Telesto Strategy’s Climate Tech Accelerator Program, in partnership with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), the U.S. Department of State Office of Global Partnerships, the Coalition for Climate Entrepreneurship (CCE), and Academic City University College, joining other 5 climate tech startups in Ghana for an incredible learning experience within the climate tech and finance sectors.
In addition, TechCrunch named us one of the top sustainability-game-changing startups most likely to have a positive impact on the world. We had a rare opportunity to be among the selected 200 startups invited to pitch and exhibit our innovation in tackling e-waste at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco, USA. This gave us access to a complimentary exhibition space, access to pitch training, masterclasses, private receptions, mentorship opportunities, VC office hours, and more.
In October, we also had the opportunity to participate in the Africa Environmental Health and Pollution Management Regional Management on E-waste Management and Persistent Organic Pollutants hosted by the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, and Nema Kenya at Mombasa. We exhibited our solutions to various regulatory bodies and CSOs and highlighted regulations favourable to enabling climate startups and SMEs to thrive well. We leveraged that opportunity to create contacts with companies and institutions, initiating a possible future collaboration on projects. AppCyclers was featured on TRT World News, showcasing our approach to repurposing e-waste into artworks and leveraging our digital platform for the sourcing and purchasing of recyclable electronic materials for remanufacturing, promoting a circular economy.
Our founder was invited to speak at Polytechnic Montreal and McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He discussed the vital role of technology in responsible e-waste disposal. Additionally, he had the opportunity to meet with the Director of Polytechnic Montreal and other professors and visited some e-waste recycling facilities and labs to learn best practices and explore future collaborations. Thanks to the CREATE SEED Team for their trust in making this possible. We are currently in the Google Startups for Sustainable Development Program and the Katapult Africa Pre-Accelerator Program. We are looking forward to leveraging these programs to be more investor-ready to assist us in raising our pre-seed round. Also to be highly equipped to communicate our social impact.
We were able to achieve a greater milestone by signing an MOU with Tamale Technical University (TaTU), as we would be working together to foster e-waste education and sustainable practices among students in Northern Ghana.
One of my major achievements this year is obtaining the Environmental Protection Agency Permit and Certification to operate as an e-waste management firm in Ghana. This was a big feat for the team, as we have continuously shown our dedication to what we do. The recognition by the EPA reaffirms our commitment to the environment and our communities.
Earlier this year, we hosted Professor Clara Santato and Mr. Pierre-Jean Alarco from Polytechnic Montreal on the Collaborative Research and Training Experience in Sustainable Electronics and Eco-Design (CREATE SEED) in Ghana to deliberate on possible collaboration. Our discussion centred on a collaborative project on student mobility exchange. The team facilitated meetings with Tamale Technical University and other CSOs within Northern Ghana to explore the potency and implementation prospects of the exchange project.
AppCyclers being a key stakeholder in e-waste management, an invitation was extended by the Environmental Protection Agency to attend a capacity-building conference that was organized for the ecosystem players within the e-waste value chain in Northern Ghana. Insights on regulations, policies, and operations permits governing e-waste were discussed. We also had the opportunity to present our products and services to students during the Tamale Technical University SRC Health Week Celebration. The invitation from Savana Signatures to participate in this event was plausible for us to engage attendees on sustainability practices and we anticipate future engagements of this kind
As one of our highlights this year, we welcomed the GIZ Ghana E-waste Project Team to our space for stakeholder engagement activities. The objective was to drive proper e-waste management and reduce health risks. We also facilitated a courtesy visit to our partner Tamale Technical University, where further discussions on the replication of the GIZ E-Waste projects in Accra and Kumasi in Northern Ghana were raised and upheld. In light of that, we collaborated with them on conducting a stakeholder mapping engagement in Tamale to identify various key stakeholders within the region. We assisted in a baseline assessment to understand the current practice on grounds, challenges, and opportunities and how the GIZ project can be of benefit to various stakeholders. We also coordinated in organizing a stakeholder engagement, bringing together all key stakeholders within the value chain in Northern Ghana to discuss the current work being done and create room for input into how we can promote sustainable e-waste management in Northern Ghana.
With the increased consumption of electronic equipment and the growing population in Africa, much more e-waste will be generated. A 2020 World Bank report predicted an even higher growth rate of 12.9% per year, leading to a potential 12.7 million tons of e-waste by 2030. There is a need to have the best infrastructure, human resources, and expertise. Using technology to digitize and optimize effective value chain linkages and adopting a robust circular-driven model is essential to obtain precious materials to boost re-manufacturing and an enabling environment to mitigate the negative impact of e-waste.
For this reason, we are raising our pre-seed investment round to make this a reality. The majority of the funding raised will be invested in completing our product development, which aims to digitize and increase e-waste collection at a maximum level. To build the needed infrastructure and to solve the broken value chain within Ghana. This initiative will create over 100 jobs and improve livelihoods in the communities we serve, reducing the harmful impact e-waste poses on human health and the environment. We are collaborating with Minimize from Germany, Enim from Canada, and Tesla Recycling from Elemental Holding Group in Poland to increase the collection of e-waste. We have room for investors to have the opportunity to invest in us to scale up our innovation across borders, thereby improving the social and economic standards of thousands of women and children in Africa.