Electronic waste upcycled into fashionable office furniture
Waste Reduction

Technology is growing at great speed. More new products launched in the market with increasingly pace. At the same time, many people own multiple devices and change their devices frequently so to keep up with the trend. It also means more electronic waste generation. According to an UN report, the global quantity of e-waste generation in 2016 was around 44.7 million metric tonnes, which equals to almost 4,500 Eiffel towers. However, only 20% of all electronic waste was recycled.

Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi, who are the designer of Studio Formafantasma, knew the biggest metal reserves will not be underground. Instead, they will be above the surface as ingots stored in private buildings, appliances and electronic products in 2080. So they realized the importance of metal recycling. Since electronic waste contains recyclable metallic materials and is the fastest-growing waste steam, they decided to focus on electronic waste and started their two-year project, Ore Streams.

Using electronic waste, which including dead-stock or recycled materials, they created office furniture as part of Ore Streams project. A chair made by aluminum plates and decorated with SIM card and circuit board of a smartphone; a locker made by computer cases and a desk made by microwave and computer keyboard. These furniture items retained much of the original features of electronic materials and they just look simple.

Farresin and Trimarchi suggested that good design could help solve electronic waste problem. Design easily openable products, avoid glue and make use of label for different materials for easy identification and sorting, it could raise recycling rate, extract less virgin metals and reduce the pollution of electronic waste.

In order to minimize electronic waste generation and to extend the life of electronic devices, we should avoid over-changing, make effort to repair old devices rather than buy a new one and do proper recycling of the wastes if they are inevitably generated.