recycling and reusing equipment

Do used hearing aids simply get thrown away? Are audiometers, otoscopes and other audiological devices from clinics disposed of without a second thought? There is an alternative option – as demonstrated by a British organization, which recycles and repairs audiological equipment and sends it to nine developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India.

Place & Year

Africa & India, 2013

Project Partners

Sound Seekers Ltd.



Main Focus

Children Providing audiological care for children in low-income countries is a focal area of the Hear the World Foundation’s activities.
Professional training The Hear the World Foundation supports projects that enable continuous audiological training for professionals on site.
Prevention of hearing loss The Hear the World Foundation globally promotes awareness for the topics of hearing and hearing loss and thus actively contributes toward the prevention of hearing loss.
Programs for parents & families By supporting self-help groups for parents, the Hear the World Foundation makes an important contribution, thus ensuring that affected parents receive specific help and assistance.

Things we no longer use often end up being carelessly thrown into the trash – this is a common problem, with devices swiftly being replaced as soon as a new version comes onto the market. Yet all these things might be urgently needed in other parts of the world. In southern Africa, for instance, good audiological equipment is either prohibitively expensive or impossible to come by at all. The organization “Sound Seekers” has been tackling this issue, among others, for a long time. It has now built up a vast network of British clinics, which supply the organization with fully functional audiometers, screening devices and monitors. It also collects used hearing aids from private individuals, repairs them and ships them out to where they are needed. “We can only train up good audiologists in developing countries if we have the right technical equipment to hand there,” stresses Project Manager Lucy Carter. “To set up clinics, the specialist staff must be well-versed in the relevant technology, otherwise it will not be possible to provide support on a lasting basis.”

A project with a threefold effect

The idea of recycling used devices has also had a beneficial side effect for the environment. The principle of recycling materials is becoming increasingly important as part of efforts to prevent waste, so the British organization’s model is right in line with current trends. Repairs of hearing aids and other technical devices are carried out by inmates at a British prison, who in turn benefit by gaining worthwhile jobs and prospects for the future – another positive outcome. The hearing aids are primarily used to help children, enabling them to attend school and giving them the chance to enjoy an independent life. The devices are supplied to countries that are among the poorest in the world, such as Zambia, Sierra Leone and Ghana. In Zambia, for example, there is only one audiologist for every 14 million or so inhabitants – by comparison, the United Kingdom boasts a ratio of 1:25,000.