Green.org sat down with Kreshna Yuditya Rahmat, a lawyer and founder of Dulang, a company that specializes in repurposing old electronics.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I Was born in Bogor, Indonesia, south of the capital city Jakarta. It is a plush green mountainous area famous for its Botanical gardens and its state palace. I spend a great time in the outdoors when I was growing up, including doing hikes and camps in the mountains. This affected my view towards sustainability, treating it not as a segregated reality where you would spend your weekend past-times but rather integral to daily lives and thus part of a holistic way of living.
I studied law for my undergrad and ended up being a lawyer. I then practiced in a global top tier firm (BakerMcKenzie) specializing in finance law. During my time in the law firm, I felt like a cog in a machine and was not really creating impact to the world. I long to do something more impactful. I then decided to take a career break and to do a second master at Cornell Tech in NYC, where I did Master of Laws, Technology & Entrepreneurship. The program is more like an incubator that taught me how to develop a product and build a startup. During my time at Cornell Tech I had the initial idea for Dulang, the waste tech startup that I am developing. When I saw the trash on the streets in NYC and also remembering the waste problem in Indonesia I thought to myself, what can be done about it? I then dig deeper and found that e-waste is a much larger problem than general waste. Globally recycling rate is only around 17.4% whilst in Indonesia it’s only a staggering 5%.
I noticed that most of us tend to just hoard our used electronics at home or dump them on the bin and curbsides. This linear process of extract, produce, consume and dispose contribute to carbon emissions, wasteful material extractions & unsustainable consumptions. When I heard and then learned about the circular economy, I am convinced that it could be a useful framework to tackle climate change and also to enable sustainability in our planet. Nature is circular and thus we should align ourselves with it, including in electronics which are more prevailing in our daily lives these days. Almost every part of our lives now has an electronic element, and ignoring a sustainable management of its life cycle could be a ticking time bomb. Based on the above I then decided to do something about it.
Most people don’t care about the environment, but most people care about getting value particularly from what they already have in an easy way. That is our mission. We want to help our customers in unlocking value from their used electronics in a super easy manner that even a typical not so tech savvy layman could do in the first instance. Dulang is a platform that facilitates this, by solving the three key pain points of the customers mentioned earlier. It solves the awareness problem by providing solutions discovery, where customers would be supported in finding solutions pertaining to their used electronics and best deciding what to do (e.g. repair for self-reuse, repair for sale, donation, recycle, or even swap).
It solves the convenience problem by having few steps and a simple interface that would enable a quick streamlined process that could be completed within 30 seconds. It solves the incentive problem by showing the value that can be unlocked from the used electronics, particularly an estimate of how much the items would be worth. Furthermore, Dulang is a lifestyle brand that promotes circularity in electronics as a cool green lifestyle. Customers will get Dulang points that later on can be traded or exchanged with goods and services from retail partners. All these provide a good feel rewarding experience that enables a positive loop and entice folks to want to participate.
As mentioned, we are creating a lifestyle brand with an emphasize in helping customers unlock value from their used electronics and providing them with a good feeling and social status in doing it. We are selling the idea that circularity can be a rewarding cool lifestyle. We are also focusing on used electronics in general as well as different solutions in enabling circularity in electronics. There is no other company that is like us. Others are only focusing on certain verticals such as sale and purchase of electronics or are not building a lifestyle brand, lacking the “cool – feel good, and social token” element that is an important one to effect social behaviors in society.
What would you do with $1 Billion dollars?
I would invest in Dulang, create an impact fund to invest in other climate tech startups as well as civic tech startups, and create a foundation like open society or Rockefeller foundation that would catalyst structural changes in Indonesia.
Why do you think sustainability is such an important topic today?
sustainability is more than just preserving nature. It is about our species survival. It is also about ensuring everyone is living well, and not having a huge disparity between the have and have not. It is about harmonizing humanity with the universe, and having the paradigm that nature is not a number or commodity but something that is a part of us, as we are a part of it. I think enabling sustainability will be one of humanity’s greatest effort and one that would have a tremendous effect to our daily lives.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Dulang’s vision is a planet without e-waste. A planet where electronics are circular and where material extractions and processing are more sustainable. Where reducing & reusing electronics become a cool and rewarding lifestyle.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Exercising his/her power wisely; whether it’s casting vote in an election for a just ESG pro candidate, or buying products and services that yield less or no negative impacts from an ESG perspective
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.