E-Mine - design thinking offers a sustainable solution

17 September 2019
The Genesis program which supports the most promising start-ups has shortlisted Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning student, Shriya Srinagesh, whose concept offers an ingenious solution for recycling e-waste.

Master of Design student, Shriya Srinagesh was recently shortlisted for her innovative solution to design an interactive technology which supports sustainability. E-Mine answered the brief to create a unique and novel interactive design concept that contributes to better outcomes for the environment and raises awareness around sustainability.

Ms Srinagesh formed a collaborative inter-disciplinary student team - Arvindan Kaviraj, from Interactive Design and Varun Agarwal from the Business School - naming the start-up company, Trash Impact.

The concept, E-Mine, revolves around creating an interactive digital interface for an e-waste solution that ethically instils values of social responsibility and encourages people to recycle their electronics.

According to the team’s research, electronic waste is increasing at a rapid rate - growing three times faster than any other type of waste - with Australians producing the most amount of e-waste per inhabitant in the world.

With the recycling rate for e-waste at only four percent, E-Mine aims to entice users by combining the fun and thrill of a game. Placed in locations with high footfalls, E-Mine is an automated self-serve kiosk system for users to sell their old e-devices in return for digital tokens that can be converted to cash. The machine scans the device and searches for the best price and offer to sell.

The solution leverages blockchain technology to increase motivation for e-waste recycling and to alleviate concerns of users who may be afraid that their confidential information will be compromised.

“Through the development of this design that uses blockchain technology, I hope to create a global standard for recycling e-waste legally,” Ms Srinagesh said.

Ms Srinagesh identified that the rapid advancement made in electronic technology, in itself caused a sustainability problem – recycling electronics isn’t so easy. Electronic models are released and replaced more frequently and consumers, due to trends, are continuously upgrading products before the end of their shelf life.

Ms Srinagesh recognised that very little conversation and action is taking place to address the problem: “Nobody seems to talk about where or what they do with their old devices. Most of them are shelved while some are sold and some are thrown away with the general trash.”

“For example, the most produced and owned electronic device is the mobile phone however, it is also the least recycled device!” she said.

Ms Srinagesh wished to raise awareness on e-waste and start a conversation among younger users. Her aim was to encourage discussion around e-waste and address the misconceptions associated with recycling electronics while normalising the process for users. This was to be achieved through an interactive research process which understood the user’s needs and challenges were understood.

“Shriya first proposed this idea as part of a project in the design thinking class and created a human-centred solution. While novel, it responds to current needs and contributes to a better and more sustainable future,” said Dr Naseem Ahmadpour, Design Lab.

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