Millions of computers and electronics get shipped overseas from the U.S. to the developing world, where they are cheaply, and often haphazardly, broken down for recycling. Now, millions of dollars of U.S. (and Indian) venture capital are following that disassembly chain. Attero, an e-waste recycler based in Noida, India, has raised $6.3 million (approximately Rs. 25 crore) from NEA-IndoUS Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Attero offers end-to-end recycling, pledging to pickup products to be recycled from consumers and keeping them updated throughout the disassembly process. The company plans to use its new funds to build a huge high-tech recycling center in Roorkee to process techno-trash, including old computers, cell phones, network gear, and TVs — known in the business as WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). The plant will use mechanical separation techniques as well as a metallurgical process being developed in-house to extract precious metals, the company claims.
The Indian Supreme Court has been fighting the importation of e-waste for years, which is considered a hazardous waste. But despite a ban on the import of such waste back in 1997, e-waste is the country’s fastest growing waste stream. Industry lobbyists estimate that over 2,000 trucks dump around 12,000 metric tonnes of e-waste in Delhi every day.
According to a USA Today article citing Karnataka, India’s state pollution control board, 80 percent of U.S.-generated e-waste is exported to India, China and Pakistan to be recycled. But as developing countries raise the levels of disposable income, they’ll be generating more and more of their own e-waste, too. Either way, both are opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to deliver more efficient, and more eco-friendly ways to recycle those junked gadgets.