Smartphone app to turn e-trash into hard cash in China is among winning innovations at global Solutions Summit

Sep 29, 2015

Louise Xi Li from UNDP China presenting the e-waste recycle app to a full room of high-level audiences at the Solutions Summit in New York

A smartphone app in China, that earns cash for households that safely dispose of electronic waste, is among 14 winning innovations showcased at the global Solutions Summit held in New York on September 27th.   

The app, jointly developed by the United Nations Development Programme and the Chinese Internet giant Baidu, looks to tackle the country’s growing mountain of hazardous e-waste. 

According to a report by China Business News, the final destination for around 70 percent of the world's annual 500 million tons of electronic waste, is China. A map published by the Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative estimates that the country will be grappling with over 65 million tonnes of e-waste by 2017.

The winners were selected from over 800 inspiring applications from across the world based on their ability to innovatively address one or more of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals. 

The UNDP-Baidu Recycle app helps users at the household level price and recycle their electronic products by connecting them to certified waste recycling and dismantling agencies across all major cities in China. The app also seeks to effectively integrate the informal sector into the legitimate e-waste processing industry.

“We are delighted to have the UNDP-Baidu Recycle app recognised on the global stage, as it seeks to address one of the major  threats to sustainability for the fast-industrialising countries in Asia and the Pacific,” said Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific.   

“The success of this app is testimony that the solutions of the future can only come through strong partnerships that straddle the public and private sectors, and this recognition will help us in seeking similar partnerships for our diverse array of innovation work,” added Haoliang Xu.

The Solutions Summit, organized by the UN Foundation, followed in the heels of the high-level UN General Assembly to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Globally, innovations have made a huge difference in addressing urgent and pressing development challenges such as by responding to climate disasters, by improving avenues to engage citizens in political processes and governance, and by promoting more transparent and responsive governments.

UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific had nominated three innovations from China, the Maldives and Papua New Guinea, to be in the race for recognition at the Solutions Summit. 

All three solutions are smartphone apps, chosen from an array of innovations that UNDP has supported in the region in the past two years.

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