22 Jun

4 Tech Startups Jumping On The Upcycling Trend

David Beckham, Upcycling, Tech, Startup, Venture Capital

When it comes to upcycling, tech probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. You will likely think of crafts and clothes, processes that are accessible to everyone. Yet the short lifecycles of many electronic devices and expensive recycling processes mean that upcycling tech is now more important than ever.

The United Nation’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020 found that in 2019 there was a record level of electronic waste, with over 50 million metric tonnes of consumer electronics from phones to laptops – and this is expected to double by 2030.

So, before you throw away the phone you’ve had for two years, take the time to learn about how it can be revitalised and repurposed in upcycling schemes.

Messing with your tech at home can seem daunting, and even though programs such as Samsung’s Galaxy Upcycling at Home are looking to make upcycling more accessible, you may want to pass on the challenge to the experts.

Read on to learn about 4 startups who are giving new life to old tech, and how your laptop or car can be repurposed into exciting new products. 

Lunaz

On the more luxurious end of upcycling, Lunaz re-engineers and electrifies classic cars, making the timeless aesthetic of Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, and Jaguars fit for a sustainable future. The triple Formula 1 world championship winner, Jon Hilton, designs and manufactures the cars’ engines, extending and enhancing the lifecycles of the world’s most celebrated cars. Despite only being founded in 2019, Lunaz is making waves, having recently gained investment from David Beckham, along with the Reuben and Barclay families. 

Gomi

Gomi offers the prettiest chargers and Bluetooth speakers – and they’re powered by repurposed e-bike and electric vehicle batteries and made from non-recyclable plastics! The Brighton based company’s initial product, their portable speaker, was created as founder Tom Meades’ final university project. Since graduating, Kickstarter campaigns have enabled Meades to bring this product to market, as well as expanding Gomi’s range. In 2020, Gomi released their portable charger, which Meades explains is “the first consumer tech product globally to be fully made from (and 100% powered by) waste”.

Startup, Venture Capital, Tech, Entrepreneurs, Upcycling

Repurposed wireless mag charger, via gomi.design. Image owned by Gomi.

AppCyclers

Upcycling tech even extends as far as the farming industry, as demonstrated by the Ghanaian startup AppCyclers. By repurposing unwanted fridges, the company has created egg incubators for poultry farmers, which keep the eggs warm and turn them when needed. The product is an excellent alternative to scarce and costly commercial incubators and helps to reduce e-waste in the area. AppCyclers are running this initiative alongside their online e-waste trading platform.

Urban Mining Company

With less than 1% of the world’s rare earth elements currently being recovered or recycled, Urban Mining Company is looking to make a change. With ground-breaking technology, the San Marcos based company is cost effectively reprocessing rare earth magnets from discarded hard disk drives and motors into high performance magnets which are essential for electric motors in high-temperature applications like electric vehicles and robotics, and for defence.

In an unlikely avenue, the sustainable agenda of the Urban Mining Company is being boosted due to the U.S.’s competition with China. A law implemented in 2020 that ruled that magnets made in China couldn’t be used for defence applications has led to a huge rise in demand for the Urban Mining Company. 

Image via LUNAZ. David Beckham backs the electric vehicle upcycling company.

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