The Global Cost of Electronic Waste: Swiss and Brazilian experiences

Global market trends and new consumer behavior generate a continuous flood of new products on the market. Devices with little time use, often in good condition, are replaced by new ones. Besides, a business strategy known as “planned obsolescence” reduces the lifespan of products by broadening a global scale problem of high impact to the environment: electronic waste.

The event The Global Cost of Electronic Waste: Swiss and Brazilian experiences brought together representatives from various sectors, allowing a rich and diverse approach to the subject. Swissnex Brazil provided the attendees an exchange of ideas including insights from government representatives responsible for implementing public policies, private initiative, entrepreneurs, and the experience of waste pickers, who observe on a daily basis the relationship between citizens and the garbage they produce in urban spaces. And this is a valuable perspective since the collectors are responsible for 95% of everything that Brazil recycles, crossing the cities with their carts (“carroça“, in Portuguese).

Days before the event, a specially designed wagon by the Pimp my carroça project was positioned at Unibes Cultural to collect recyclable waste from the event participants and the general public.

Switzerland is among the most efficient recycling countries. Dr. Karine Siegwart, Vice Director of the Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland (FOEN), shared experiences of her work in Switzerland and research in Brazil. To enrich the conversation, Everton Menezes Costa, garbage collector from Cataki / Pimp my wagon; Caio Miranda, from TechTrash, a startup form Rio de Janeiro that offers customized Reverse Logistics solutions for the management of electronic waste; Tereza Cristina Carvalho, researcher at CEDIR / USP (Center for the Disposal and Reuse of Computer Waste); Flávio de Miranda Ribeiro, from Cetesb; and Carlos Roberto Vieira da Silva Filho, from Abrelpe, mediated the table.

The event took place on 9 August 2018 at Unibes Cultural, São Paulo.




Karine Siegwart grew up in Freiburg, Switzerland and Germany. She studied law at the University of Freiburg and in 1996 obtained her PhD on “The cantons and federal European policy”. She also has a Master in European Law from the European Institute of the University of Saarland (Germany). Following a spell as Senior Research Associate at the University of Zurich, periods of research in the U.S. and Brazil, and training as a mediator at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, in 2003 Karine Siegwart joined the federal administration at the integration office responsible for European policy issues (now the Directorate for European Affairs, DEA). In 2007 she moved to the Federal Office for the Environment as head of the Europe, Trade and Development on Cooperation Section. Since 2007 she has also been a lecturer at the ETH, where she is responsible for a course on mediation processes and environmental planning.  Karine Siegwart (1964) has been Vice Director of the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN since 1 January 2013. She heads the Hydrology Division, the Waste and Resources Division, the Economics and Innovation Division and the Environmental Monitoring Section.


Tereza Cristina Melo de Brito Carvalho
is an Associate Professor at the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (USP), visiting professor at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Ph.D. in Computer Networks at the Polytechnic School. She is the founder and general director of LASSU (Laboratory of Sustainability in IT) and co-founder and principal investigator of LARC (Laboratory of Architecture and Computer Networks). She is the founder and coordinator of the Waste Disposal and Recycling Center at USP and received several awards regarding Technological Innovation and Sustainability.


Caio Miranda
is a geographer from UFRJ, with a Postgraduate degree in Environment from Coppe/UFRJ and a Master’s degree in Management Systems from Universidade Federal Fluminense School of Engineering. He is an entrepreneur focused on sustainable businesses, CEO of Tech Trash, recently accelerated by Sai do Papel and accepted in the Inovativa Brasil program. Tech Trash is a pioneering startup in Rio de Janeiro that offers customized Reverse Logistics solutions for the management of corporate and personal waste.


Everton Menezes Costa, waste picker for Pimp My Carroça, an organized movement since 2012 which take collectors of recyclable materials from social invisibility and increase their income through art, awareness, engagement and collective participation. More than two thousand collectors have already been attended, mobilizing graffiti artists and volunteers, through painting and minor repairs. The project’s actions have already been replicated in 13 countries. In 2017, Pimp My Cart launched Cataki, an application that guides the correct disposal of waste.


Flávio de Miranda Ribeiro
, Mechanical Engineer with Specialization in Environmental Technologies and Management (USP), Master in Energy (USP) and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences (USP). He is part of the Department of International Affairs of the Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo (Cetesb). He is a member of the Group of Experts on Sustainable Consumption and Production of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), researcher of the Pollution Prevention Group – GP2 (Polytechnic School -USP) and the Strategic Environmental Management Program – PROGESA (FIA).



Mediation: Carlos Roberto Vieira da Silva Filho, President of the Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Wastes (Abrelpe), Vice President of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), lawyer, postgraduate in Administrative and Economic Law by Mackenzie University and author of the book Solid Waste: What the Law Says.