While the collection of disposed electronics exclusively takes place in Africa, the recycling of the collected goods is predominantly done in Europe. The reason for this is simple: many African countries lack infrastructure and expertise in waste recycling. Europe, on the contrary, offers professional recycling facilities, is increasingly interested in green business, and provides CTL with its main customer base – multinational corporations, such as Samsung, Vodafone, and KPMG. With their contribution to a circular economy within the sustainability and waste industry, CTL combines the Western demand of electronic devices with the popular pursuit of CSR and connects both aspirations to the African supply of e-waste. In other words, “our money comes from Europe and goes to Africa,” Reinhardt notes in view of the start-up’s biggest client to date – Vodafone Germany – that recently signed an agreement that charges CTL with an annual collection and recycling of one million old phones for Vodafone alone.
The start-up’s success clearly roots in its change of perspective: Instead of looking at Africa as a continent of many problems, they have recognized the many opportunities it offers. Back in 2014 Joost de Kluijver, Founder and CEO of CTL, noticed the huge amount of e-waste in Ghanaian and Tanzanian landfills. A problem that he approached with a business case that drives the demand for collecting and recycling e-waste. Convinced by the business idea, Reinhardt joined the startup as Project Director Africa at the time. Born in South Africa and raised in Ghana, he brought an extensive local network into the business, allowing CTL to effectively involve African-based waste collection services into their circular model.