Mohamed Tarek El-Fatatry had an epiphany—about 4,000 dead phones.

It was mid-2018. El-Fatatry was in Plaza Lowyat, a multi-storey IT mall in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, he stumbled upon a phone repair shop with a large pile of mobile phones that were beyond repair. He decided to buy all of them—for US$1,000 in total. Later, he sold them to a recycling plant for US$2,000.

That sale set El-Fatatry on a course to launch a social enterprise in Malaysia that collects and delivers electronic waste to licensed recycling plants in 2018. He named it ERTH, a backronym for E-waste Recycling through Heroes.

AUTHOR

Li Mei Foong

Li Mei Foong is based in Kuala Lumpur, where she seeks to connect the dots between culture and technology in Southeast Asia while keeping an eye on interesting development in its digital creative space. She was previously a freelance features journalist and has reported for regional publications including Channel News Asia (CNA), Southeast Asia Globe, and New Naratif.

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