Álvaro Núñez Solís

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Álvaro Núñez Solís was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2015.
The New Idea
Alvaro Nuñez is catalyzing the culture, infrastructure, and market necessary to develop a practice of e-recycling in Mexico. Using a nonprofit to build culture and a social business for the actual recycling, Alvaro is preparing Mexico to address the large and growing problem of electronic waste in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Because Alvaro has not been able to rely on the legal frameworks established in the United States and Europe, he is instead working to make e-recycling a social norm and providing the infrastructure to make the process easy.

In order to generate an e-recycling culture from the ground up, Alvaro has created an impressive network of volunteers and designed widespread public education campaigns through the nonprofit Punto Verde, or “Green Point.” All across Mexico, his volunteer-led reciclons serve to increase awareness and begin the process of collecting e-waste. Believing that the next generation is critical for change, Alvaro is working with the government to implement his “recycling squad” cartoon program, which breaks down the importance of e-recycling for children, in schools across the country. Punto Verde also works with student tech and engineering entrepreneurs to help students turn to their e-waste for the components of their own prototypes and models. In order to increase awareness of the alternative prospects of recycled electronic goods, the organization also refurbishes and repurposes computers to donate to low income schools.

Alvaro has realized that if he wants to change culture, he needs to demonstrate viable opportunities for e-recycling. His social business, Recicla Electronicos Mexico (REMSA), uses Punto Verde’s network to provide the infrastructure necessary to make e-recycling a reality, and is leading the market toward true electronic recycling. REMSA receives e-waste from Punto Verde’s 27 permanent collection centers all over Mexico, and also offers direct pickup for free in homes and businesses. At the facility, the innovation continues with Alvaro’s mastery of completely environmental processes. While many “pseudo recyclers” in Mexico only extract the useful parts of electronic waste and illegally burn or dump the remains into the ocean, REMSA takes apart each item of electronic waste entirely, and recycles more than 95% of each device. Simultaneously, the recycling center is a headquarters for recycling research, working privately and with businesses to develop new and more efficient recycling technologies. Major global corporations have already begun to reach out to Alvaro for innovative solutions to their specific types of waste, and he is working on plans for scaling across Latin America.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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