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Exploring Themes for E-Waste

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Our E-Waste Challenge is buzzing, beeping and humming along – with inspirations posted from around the world to help us learn and start thinking about potential solutions. Now it's time to dive into the ever-collaborative Concepting phase, and to help you get started, we thought we'd share a bit more about our Challenge Themes.
 
Themes are opportunity areas for our ideas: What common patterns did we surface in Inspiration? In what potential directions could our ideas head in Concepting? Our themes, which you'll find at the top of the Concepting phase page, are jumping-off points for both of these questions. 
 
How will these E-Waste Challenge Themes spark your thinking?
 

Demystify E-Waste

 
 
E-waste is a complicated topic for many people to understand fully. A first step toward impact, then, is raising awareness and demystifying the subject of e-waste for all of us.
  • How can we educate local communities about our options to dispose of e-waste responsibly and sustainably? (think schools, neighborhoods, even families)
  • How can we use social media or other digital tools to spread awareness virally?
 

Make the Business Case

 
 
What's the business case for responsibly and safely managing e-waste and discarded electronics? As we learned in our interview with Green Citizen, businesses can make a dent in the e-waste problem and make money – but doing so can require large investments and high-level commitments from everyone involved.
  • What business models can we design to help companies to ‘do good’ in the world of e-waste?
  • How can business work with governments, nonprofits and other partners to create large-scale impact?
 

Track the Life Cycle

 
 
When we buy an electronic item, we don’t always consider what went into making it or where it goes after it leaves our hands. Tracking and certification – through data collection, mapping and more – can help us better understand and trust the supply chain that makes our electronics and that disassembles them.
  • How can we use technology to certify and verify the life cycle of our e-waste?
  • How might we use data or mapping to better connect consumers with the story of their electronics?
 

Repair + Reuse

 
 
From shopping at vintage stores to organizing maker events with friends, these days what’s old is new again. Getting hands-on, repairing and reusing what we can, and finding new uses for things we already own are popular mantras in many parts of the world today.
  • How can we promote secondary markets for discarded electronics to bring renewed life to these items?
  • How might we encourage consumers to reuse or repair what they have before buying new?
 

Change Attitudes + Behaviors

 
 
It’s one thing to raise awareness about the issues of e-waste; it’s another to actually change people's attitudes and behavior. Yet in this challenge, behavior change among consumers is a key lever we’ll need to pull in order to create impact.
  • How can we incentivise alternative approaches to buying new electronics?
  • How can we increase accountability for our own actions related to recycling?
 

Design Better Products

 
 
In Inspiration we surfaced great examples of how innovative thinking can push the envelope on what’s possible in the world of recycling and reuse. Let's think about new approaches to product design, packaging, recycling or reuse programs.
  • How might we help manufacturers build electronics that are designed to last?
  • How might we rethink the materials, components or packaging used in our electronics?
 
What ideas might these Themes ignite for you? We're eager to hear what you come up with in Concepting!
 
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Designing better products with less packaging is more effective in more ways than one. By reducing the amount needed to produce a product, more money can be saved and the product is limited to be efficient and only include the necessary parts. Specifically to electronics, packaging can be minimized to only include the phone and wiring. This would eliminate the instruction booklets that are usually thrown out by making them easily available online and would decrease the amount of material to package the electronic itself. For example, phones don't need a box that is 4 to 5 times it's size to include the contents and package the product in an attractive way.