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A new treatment for burning pain

Date: 17.10.2023
The UN predicts that in 2023, each person will produce an average of 8 kg of e-waste globally, resulting in a staggering 61.3 million tonnes of electronic waste discarded in a single year. To put this into perspective, that’s more weight than the Great Wall of China.

The alarming fact that only 17.4 percent of e-waste is properly managed, with the remaining 50.6 million tonnes mishandled, highlights the urgent need for responsible e-waste management and recycling practices worldwide. Many companies still prioritize cost reduction and traditional linear economy principles, neglecting the circular economy’s potential benefits. Michaela Streicher (Biz-Up) acknowledges that even on the management level, circular economy issues are often ignored, particularly by SMEs. This lack of visibility makes addressing the invisible issue of e-waste challenging.

The project’s focus shifted towards prevention, and A.Tiziana De Nittis (Emilia Romagna Region), Philip Feutcher (Vienna University of Technology), Magdalena Małachowska (Media Dizajn Association), and others emphasized the importance of sharing practices and experiences among partners to improve policy strategies. Giovanni Portello (t2i Technology transfer and innovation) sees this project as a catalyst for fostering sustainability by encouraging responsible e-waste handling and recycling. Sandra Szurgot, from Elektryk Morska aims to create a more effective recycling system and raise awareness about the electronic and electrical equipment sector and circular economy practices within her company. Nivedita Mahida-Königsdörfer ( Bavarian Research Alliance) and her team have already started sensitizing colleagues by collecting old mobile phones and delivering them to local recycling facilities, while also making e-waste a central topic of discussion.

This proactive approach involves developing new treatments based on materials, design, and business models, with the ultimate goal of prescribing policy recommendations to address this critical issue.

Written by: Magdalena Małachowska, designer and economist