Garbage for some, new beginnings for others
The disposal of electronic devices every year during the last centuries has produced massive environmental damages and social repercussions. Landfills around the world have been filled with digital residues. There are no clear strategies in order to have a proper recycling process, therefore only the 30% of e-waste goes to the correct recycling facilities. The other 70% arrives in developing countries, in which people without decent labor conditions disassemble these objects. (Trimarchi & Farresin, 2020) This continuous discarding is marked by the planned obsolescence, known as the strategy of limiting the artificial life of goods in order to increase the sale volumes. (Visual Essay-Formafantasma, Ore Streams, 2019)
Currently the life of tech devices is planned to last around two years. The discarding reasons go from the malfunctioning of the appliance until the dynamic obsolescence, explained as “The deliberate redesign of goods or services intended to render established goods and services outdated and eventually obsolete.” (Doyle, 2011) In other words, they get out of fashion. This produces a constant purchase and discarding, creating an uncontrolled abundance of waste.
Here the role of the designer takes an important place. First as the maker of easy separable devices, allowing the not working pieces to be replaced and then recycled. This is known as the “Design for Recycling,” seeking sustainability and reduction of
e-waste. This leads to the second task of creators, the recycling of materials which are contained in objects like boards, washing machines, air conditioners, cellphones, etc.
As Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farrasin, owners of Studio Formafatasma explain, “design could be an important agent to develop a more responsible use of resources.” (Trimarchi & Farresin, 2020) Their studio developed a recycling-design project from 2017 to 2019, aiming to recover metals and materials from electronic waste. This project entitled Ore Streams invites to analyze the impact that design can have in making a more sustainable environment.
Ore Streams is a “ground mining” investigation, because in the future, the mineral reserve will not be any longer underground, rather they will lie on the products we consume. (Trimarchi & Farresin, 2020) They visualized office furniture built with devices like microwaves, computer boards, keyboards, etc. Their design involves practicality, efficiency, durability and style. This is how materials, which could be thought as no longer useful, can be bounce back. In this highly consumerist society, design should implies to think about the product as a possible future recycled object and also as an object made of recycled pieces, making a sustainable loop.
Visual Essay-Formafantasma, Ore Streams (2019). [Motion Picture]
Hultgren, N. (2012). Guidelines and Design Strategies for Improved Product Recyclability - How to Increase the Recyclability of Consumer Electronics and Domestic Appliances through Product Design. Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Energy and Environment, Gothenburg.
Trimarchi, A., & Farresin, S. (n.d.). Formafantasma. Retrieved 02 15, 2020, from https://www.formafantasma.com/about
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Zhang, K., Schnoor, J., & Zeng, E. (2012, September 21). ACS Publications. Retrieved 02 15, 2020, from https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es303166s