Instead of sitting out a sentence behind bars, or going into debt to pay a fine, people in Zurich are able to take part in a work project recycling electronic scrap.
Last year, the equivalent of 6,300 days in detention was worked off, thanks to a charity set up to help the reintegration of people who have been ordered to do community work in place of a fine or jail sentence.
There are containers where residents living close to the workspace can drop off their old electronics. Companies can also bring their disused scrap to the building. It is all sorted by the staff.
Copper and other valuable metals are processed for use in new products while other material is turned into everything from clocks made from old vinyl records to diaries. It is all sold in the building shop or online.
“Not for profit work is cheaper than jail, and provides added value,” says manager Hape Ottlik. The staff learn a routine and that helps reintegrate them into the working world and society, he adds.