Inigo Nunez. CEO of Éwaste and David González. Managing Director of Ewaste
What is Ewaste?
IN/DG: Ewaste Canarias is the only plant in the Canary Islands for the treatment of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) discarded by consumers after the end of their useful life.
We have the purpose of proceeding to its correct environmental management avoiding the contamination of the natural spaces of the Islands, the discharge of harmful gases into the atmosphere and the contamination of the aquifers, in addition to the recovery of the raw materials from which they are compounds to re-introduce them in the markets as inputs for new production processes, completing a Circular Economy process. This entails that we help prevent the overexploitation of the planet's natural resources such as iron, copper or the generation of newly produced plastics, among others, which are the components of these devices.
–Caring for the environment, Circular Economy and the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Can you explain how these concepts are related?
DG: The first thing would be to clarify the concepts. The environment or natural environment is the set of external physical, chemical and biological components with which all living beings interact. The environment encompasses the interaction of all living species, climate and natural resources that affect human survival and economic activity.
The Circular Economy is the economic model that Europe is committed to in order to remain competitive in international markets and that is based on the right balance between economic, social and environmental development. On the other hand, the SDGs emerged in 2015, after the approval by the UN of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, an opportunity for countries and their societies to embark on a new path with which to improve the lives of all, without leaving no one behind The Agenda has 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which range from the elimination of poverty to the fight against climate change, education, women's equality, the defense of the environment or the design of our cities.
IN: In short, caring for the environment is present both in the Circular Economy model because it is one of the pillars on which it is based and is also part of the remains determined by the UN in the 2030 agenda. Specifically in SDG12 ) Responsible Production and Consumption; SDG13) Climate Action, SDG14) Life Underwater and SDG15) Life on Terrestrial Ecosystems.
–Does the growing concern for caring for the environment benefit the creation of companies like Ewaste?
DG: Undoubtedly, if the electrical and electronic equipment discarded by consumers, whether individuals, companies or institutions, were not properly deposited, it would not be possible to set up industries similar to Ewaste. Last year we managed 14,000 tons from the 8 islands and avoided the discharge of 469,000 equivalent tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
On the other hand, the political will to legislate in favor of caring for the environment at all levels of the Public Administration is reflected in the «Next generation» European funds, which are largely destined to the development of the circular economy and the digitization of companies, tools that are essential to accelerate the transition from a linear economy model (produce and dispose of) to a circular economy model (produce, reuse and recover in balance with the environment and social development).
IN: Indeed, as David indicates, the political will translated into regulatory developments is the accelerator. For example, city councils have to make visible the real cost of managing the waste generated by their citizens and establish mechanisms that reward those who do it well (which is cheaper). Either establish the procedures and standards to truly implement responsible purchasing criteria in Public Administration tenders or legislate so that there are no orphaned waste, setting up Extended Producer Responsibility Systems that finance the correct management of those products that are a cost to today for the citizen and the public coffers, in addition to doing enormous damage to the environment if they are not managed correctly from an environmental point of view, for example for the management of textiles, mattresses or oils.
– Who is responsible for caring for the environment?
DG: of all It doesn't matter if you're a student, engineer, CEO, judge, or president of the government. In our particular field as citizens we are the ones who decide if a waste becomes garbage or a resource. If we separate it and deposit it in the place designated for it, we will be generating resources and protecting the environment and the health of people and other living beings. If we do not do it correctly we will be generating garbage, which by definition would be the failure of the objective pursued by the Circular Economy.
IN: That said, the Public Administrations must make the means available to citizens and companies. But the responsibility lies with the people. If we decide to do it wrong, there is no technology that prevents us from generating garbage, which harms the environment, economic development and health. In short, generating garbage impoverishes us economically and socially.
What would you say to climate change deniers?
DG: Rather, I would ask them why they defend a linear economy model, which is based on the overexploitation of natural resources, the uncontrolled and massive emission of gases that are harmful to the planet and those of us who live on it, and the social and economic inequality of its inhabitants. .
IN: Beyond the more or less well-founded technical arguments of the deniers, my approach is simpler: If those of us who think that things have to change, so that we don't go to disaster, are wrong, what happens? Well, we will have a better planet and a better world... but what happens if they, the deniers, are wrong... well, we die. What option would you take?