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As technology progresses, consumer habits change. Like many other electrical appliances, old television sets have become obsolete.
This week, Business Planet takes us to Italy, where we will see how environmentally harmful waste is being transformed into fancy ceramic tiles, offering some businesses an answer to the economic crisis.
Founded in 1999, Relight is a successful business which today employs 70 people.
The company specialises in the treatment of electric and electronic waste.
It is always looking for innovative ways to recycle the waste it collects.
“These products have an increasingly short shelf-life so there are more and more of them to get rid of. You have to recycle in order to guarantee a second life for these materials,” says Relight General Manager Bibiana Ferrari.
Relight is part of a group of businesses that offers old TV screens a second life.
Thanks to the Glassplus project backed by the European Commission’s Eco-Innovation program, TV screens are gathered, shredded and re-used to make ceramic tiles.
The company is not just doing the environment a favour – last year, Relight reached an annual turnover of 8 million euros.
“All of these operations are economically sustainable because this is a profitable business, my factory is making profit, creating jobs and has a self-sustaining system,” says Bibiana Ferrari.
The recycled glass is added to a clay mixture used to make ceramic tiles.
For example, in order to make enough tiles for a 70-square meter apartment, 30 television sets are needed.
To this day, 10,000 tons of tv sets have been recycled thanks to the Glassplus project.
“To this day we have produced 500,000 square meters of ceramic tiles with this innovative clay. This means that we have recycled 2,500 tons of glass from old televisions,” says Glassplus project coordinator Davide Carra.
By using recycled glass, Refin, the ceramics manufacturer, significantly reduces its dependency on mostly imported raw materials.
The process is not only environmentally-friendly, but also attracts new markets thanks to its ecological certification.
“This production is very important for us because we always focus on innovation, high quality and design,” says Refin General Manager, Arnold Stabinger.
Relight General Manager Bibiana Ferrari has this advice for anyone seeking to set up a successful, environmentally-friendly business:
“The three keys to success in this field are: focusing on development and research, spending a lot of energy and effort on environmental issues, and the ability to process waste in accordance with industrial needs.”