Recycling is hard and boring. Creativity and design is exciting and sexy. With some tweaking and thinking we could combine the two!
For years recycling has been at the forefront of waste management. And with electronic production sales ever increasing it should only be logical that recycling increases as well, however recycling electronics is hard and not as straightforward. The process often requires many steps to separate materials so that they can be recycled, often some of these steps require manual disassembly by people. And therefore it is quite easy to see why we are falling behind in recycling while production is rapidly being sped through automation, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics.
Due to this it is important to attack the problem from a different angle. And reduction through design is that new perspective. In 2019, 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste was produced globally, only 20% of that was recycled.
There are many ways to combat e-waste and recycling is only one of them. So if electronics would be designed to more easily be recycled, last longer, or be upgraded instead of replaced, then we would reduce a lot of e-waste.
At Fontys | Pulsed I am creating my own version of a think-tank for the technically adept, an event to realise the need to think of e-waste earlier on in the process of creation. I believe that people are inherently good, and information is powerful, so I want to equip the engineers of today and tomorrow through my event, on how to reduce our electronic footprint. The event, which I am calling the E-waste Think Tank will give more information about the problem at hand, as well as a forum where engineers can collectively come up with new policy for their organisations.
By creating the solutions themselves the created policy will be something the engineers really believe in, a powerful motivator to make real change. The event is not about presenting dramatic new never seen before information. The goal is to change people’s perspective. From this I hope to put recyclability at the forethought in the design and development process.
This is what I believe is the future, and this is what I believe needs to change.
The facts and figures in the second paragraph come from The Global E-waste Monitor 2020: http://ewastemonitor.info/
All images are from unsplashed.