How can e-waste and discarded electronics be managed?

Posted by Siddhant Bhandari on 25 Jun, 2018

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9 Solutions

The Recycling Network

Posted by Earthr.org Content Team on 25 Aug, 2018

The goal is to create recycling awareness and effective results by bringing together three of nowadays’ trend topics: gaming, sustainable development, and social networking. The Recycling Network is a tool that put all these aspects together. 

How?

The Recycling Network is available as a web portal and as a mobile app. You build your profile and become a user, just like a regular social network. Once you have an old electronic device bothering you at home, just take it to to an affiliated depot: the website and the app have an interactive map based on your location showing the nearest to you and also a full list of them. 

Once you get your e-waste there, its entry is registered by scanning the product bar code or inputting its serial number; and you start collecting points according to the product discarded. For example, for a pair of used batteries delivered, you’ll be rewarded with 5 points; for an outdated cellphone, 15 points.

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E-Cycle Truck

Posted by Earthr.org Content Team on 25 Aug, 2018

The idea of the E-Cycle truck is to promote and inform people about the importance of e-cycling as well as provide a convenient place to recycle or repair old electronics. Inspired by the food truck movement, the E-Cycle truck (appropriately, a repaired and transformed old truck) would go around the town to promote, collect, trade, and repair old and broken electronics. 

People can bring out their old cell phones sleeping on their shelves for 3 years to let us e-cycle it, trade it with other electronic, or repair it so you can give it to friends and family members as gifts, or sell on Craigslist.

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Chargers and Cords Exchange Box

Posted by Earthr.org Content Team on 25 Aug, 2018

This box is designed for a drop-off for cords and chargers and to be placed in local stores and shops. People can bring in their chargers for their old phones or cords that they no longer need to drop them off at the box for others who may need them.

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Hand Me Down - redistributing second-hand electronics

Posted by Earthr.org Content Team on 25 Aug, 2018

Screened applicants adopt second-hand electronics from donors through a placement service that leverages social media in order to create and mobilise a network of e-waste educated consumers.

Electronics donors and adopters interact through a website platform while learning about and drawing attention to e-waste issues. Products donated to the program are inspected and certified and come to the adopter with a warranty plan to maximize their lifespan.

Donors pay a small price to enrol a product (focus on educational electronics: laptops, tablets, iPods, printers etc.). This concept is pitched as a service to maximise the impact of an old electronic device in a new owner's life. Donors feel happier helping another human, and receive validation in terms of participating in a more sustainable lifestyle. The fee covers finding the best new owner possible, but more importantly, it incentivises a stronger investment in the program.

For a small additional payment, you can hand pick your device's new home based on optional site user profiles (increased interaction). Donors can also opt for Facebook integration with the website. Placing your device with a Facebook friend is free (increase social media integration).

Adopters apply to the program by writing a short essay requiring some research and thought devoted to e-waste, and fill out a preliminary survey about the types of electronics they would be interested in. They receive a congratulatory email when they are accepted to the program, and are periodically invited to return to the website to update their electronics preferences, or receive tips about improving their user profiles to increase being matched with their "perfect-fit" donated device. If matched with a device, they receive it for a small fraction (think 5%) of its present value in return for posting their photo with their device on the website (small additional payment if they would rather decline a photo).

The platform for interaction would be a creative website featuring educational materials. In addition to donor and adopter recruiting pages and a collection of user profiles, this could include:

  • A gallery of adopted electronics
  • A HandMeDown electronics adopter spotlight
  • A gallery of electronics available for adoption
  • A contest event (eg. create an informative video about e-waste)
  • Featured electronics with quirky "life-history" stories.

Site content will focus on people-centered language, with content focused on themes of education and connectedness. As much as possible, electronics will be personified, and their relationships with their former and future users as well as their "life experience" and "personality quirks" will be played up. You wouldn't stop thinking about your dog after you put him up for adoption-- is it possible to extend some of that feeling to a laptop? If so, can we use it to encourage greater consideration for later steps in the electronics lifecycle?

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Mint for e-waste management - What's my electronic footprint?

Posted by Earthr.org Content Team on 25 Aug, 2018

What if there were a Mint.com style dashboard where users have a view to their entire electronic inventory, what that inventory means in terms of sustainability (each smartphone has an LCD, lithium-ion battery, circuit board), and multiple options for managing/discarding their old electronics.

This is a bit of a spinoff from "Gaming for E-Waste Behaviour Change", based on the premise that giving users information about their actions and the effect of their actions can help them change their behaviour.

Example User Scenario

Roberta has a collection of old laptops and phones that she would love to get rid of, but she's hesitating because she's heard that some parts of the laptop can be harmful.  She's not sure, but she has a discomforting feeling that simply tossing them out would be wasteful and perhaps irresponsible.

She's heard from a friend that there exists a website that can help her find disposal options quickly and easily. 

Roberta finds the website, registers, and finds that she first needs to add her electronics information to the site.  To her delight, she sees that she can simply take a picture of her electronics pile, and the site will automatically identify and catalog the items for her.

The site takes a moment to compile the information, then shows her a listing of all her devices.  She's also intrigued by a "sustainability score".  As she clicks for more detail, she gets an overview of the e-waste components in her inventory, their impact on the environment, how she compares to the average person in her area.

Roberta also sees that she can actually add all of her current electronics and when she does this, she is taken aback by the sheer volume of electronic components owned by her and her family, and the potentially harmful impact it can create.  

What she really likes about the site however, is that for each device she is able to retrieve multiple options for getting rid of them.  When she looks at the details for her old laptop, she sees the resale value, tax break for donation, or a micro-donation site where she can choose the recipient of her laptop - a village school seeking wireless computers for their remote classroom.

Each of these options raises her sustainability score, provides a responsible way to recycle her device, and provides some monetary value.  As she is about to logout, the site also offers to post her sustainability score online, and an option to encourage her friends to join the site, find out their sustainability scores, and how to maximise the disposal of their old electronics.

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Green Deposit system - Hold on to your electronic device and save!

Posted by Earthr.org Content Team on 25 Aug, 2018

With the ever-changing trend and accelerated evolution of electronics, the product lifecycle of electronics became increasingly shorter. What could the government do to encourage the consumers to make the most out of each electronic gadget, in other words, keep the e-waste at its minimum?

With the "Green Deposit" system, you would need to pay a deposit that equates the recommended lifespan of the product. Each month, you'll get "credit" for not having created additional waste, and by the end of the product lifespan, you'll have full credit to be used against your next purchase. The "Green Deposit Tracker (image)" app will help you keep track of all your devices and their lifespan. If you're an early adopter and cannot wait to upgrade just pay the additional deposit.

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Rechargeable Batteries

Posted by Earthr.org Content Team on 19 Aug, 2018

Nickel–metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries, rechargeable via Micro-USB.

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Take it Back program

Posted by Deepak Singh on 25 Jun, 2018

 This industry has a tradition of no accountability.

Quote taken from Bloomberg's article on electronic waste and lack of accountability 

We should encourage and require companies to have product life cycle accountability. This would be a system approach and taking cues from other great ideas. Companies, especially electronic manufacturers, don't have specific responsibility after a product is sold to the consumer. It puts it in the hands of the people and ultimately the government to figure out how to deal with the product after it is broken or no longer needed. It becomes a burden for everyone to figure out without knowing all the parts and components that are actually recyclable as well as harmful. Many people end up throwing electronics in with the regular trash without thinking twice. 

An example would be if Joe bought a HP computer, and 3 years later it no longer works, what are his options? If there was a system that encouraged HP to be responsible for manufacturing and recycling, it would also encourage them to make parts reusable since they have to figure out what to do with the product when it comes back. Companies would think and develop materials with more care and purpose. HP could think about reusing components when products are returned for their next generation models. This would address that many mixed materials are also difficult to separate and requiring companies to take back their products, makes them innovate on ideas to make it more beneficial for themselves and everyone else. There's incentive for companies because they get materials back to reuse. That's a huge savings and advantage to being profitable and helps us locally instead of shipping electronic waste internationally.

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Digital data transfer and elimination service

Posted by Justin Kuhlmann on 25 Jun, 2018

At the end of a mobile phone's (first) life a data transfer and elimination service will encourage users to hand in their old phones to be re-used, re-furbished or re-cycled without having to worry that personal data is either lost or misused.

Take-back schemes for electronic gadgets such as mobile phones do exist but despite financial incentives uptake has been slow. One issue is that users have data on devices that they either cannot transfer to a new gadget or the worry that personal data left on the device could be misused by a third party. The proposed digital data transfer and elimination service could be offered by phone retailers. The benefits for retailers include creating a stronger 'green' corporate image, access to resources that can either be re-used or recycled and potential customers looking for a new phone. 

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