In three years, a small team of engineers led by a visionary entrepreneur Mr. Christian Thomas has developed a new process for producing iron, aluminum, copper, as well as gold and silver in commercial quantities, from electronic waste. The small team of senior engineers who started this venture had been brutally terminated upon the failure of a big lead processing plant. Out of a job, they developed the idea of recycling electronic waste and tested it, while two associates worked at finding financing and legal authorizations for the developing project. Once all the pilot tests had been conducted, it took two more years to set up appropriate supply routes and to build a plant to do phase I, i.e. extracting plastic, iron and aluminum. The effluent at that stage is rich in rare metals and attractive for the smelters who do the further refining. The rich output is hence sold to the copper smelters until phase II is in place. The case presents an interesting example of a technologically sophisticated recycling operation because it generates positive income with zero emissions and without ultimate residue. Progressively dominating complex chemical processes with a series of innovations, and surviving with some successful consulting jobs for the industry, the team completed the set up by January 2012. This development took place during the financial crisis years, in the competitive environment of five global copper smelters.
|Authors:||Gilles van Wijk and Alireza Ahmadsimab|
|Institution:||Essec Business School|
|Key Words||Sustainability, PCB recycling, greentech, entrepreneurship|
|Courses||strategic management, sustainability, entrepreneurship|
|Purchase Information||Please contact the authors, Gilles van Wijk for permission rights.|