• Tony Sharp, founder of Logan social enterprise, Substation33.

Electronic waste turned into treasure

A stalwart of social justice and sustainability since 2013, Substation33 has provided employment and a greater purpose to more than 450 people experiencing barriers to employment in the last year alone.

In doing so, founder Tony Sharp has also made the world a better place.

And the key to it all was electronic waste.

“The most rewarding part of it all is being able to facilitate others’ becoming the best version of themselves through the work we do.”

— Tony Sharp

‘We’re the generation that created consumerism, so it’s our responsibility to tackle it,’ Tony says.

The Substation33 team members create products such as laptops, 3D printers and electronic bikes with materials they salvage from electronic waste that would have ended up in landfill. Since the start of COVID-19, they’ve built 4,000 laptops for students.

Another one of their products, developed out of a startup weekend in their Innovation Lab, provides electricity in remote Indonesian communities.

The Powerwell, a solar-powered battery pack, is made with the acrylic found in computer monitors, lithium ion laptop batteries and circuit boards built and manufactured in Logan.

The villages now pay a monthly fee of $2.50 for an access code to the battery pack. It’s a quarter of the price they used to pay for kerosene, which is known for its adverse health effects.

Every product is built on-site in Logan by volunteers and staff trained and upskilled by Substation33.

‘I realised that working behind a desk wouldn’t work for me or the younger generation, so we started looking for opportunities,’ Tony says.

‘One of the biggest challenges for society is the risk matrix in education – young people never experience risk or working with their hands.

‘The most rewarding part of it all is being able to facilitate others’ becoming the best version of themselves through the work we do.’

Substation33 will be participating in the upcoming Logan Eco Action Festival (LEAF) on 5 June at Griffith University, with their solar powered coffee cart, PA system and sound tech.

It will also be trialling Logan’s first events-based container refund system.

Learn more about Substation33 on their website.

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