Zero E-waste by extending EPR even further

Zero E-waste by extending EPR even further

Our challenge, your solutions

Extending EPR by creating and tracking DT of products

During this digital education hackathon, we selected a challenge to predict the future of waste management on the shadow of DT and industry4. We did the task by a research-based and feedback-driven approach. As a solution, we suggest employing DT for every product and extending EPR.

 

 

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Team: NoPlan(et)B

Members roles and background

I attended the event individually to have my own time schedule. I have a Master's degree in 'Intelligent computing' from LUT university in Finland. Currently, I'm a student of JAMK in Finland and I have about ten years of teaching experience in vocational schools and colleges and three years experience in programming in a Finnish company.

Contact details
ari.happonen@lut.fi

Solution description

This digital education method provides a great opportunity for universities and companies to collaborate and cooperate with each other for solving the real world challenges. Also, it gives the learners a chance to promote themselves and their skills to the companies with shared interest which may end up in hunting a job. On the other hand, companies can get the benefit of cutting-edge knowledge, the professional skills of learners and above all innovative solutions for their business challenges.

This sort of hackathon can improve digital education by motivating learners to gain a significant amount of knowledge about a new topic in a few days and/or upskill themselves with practicing in a real-life challenge. Through this method of learning, the role of teacher is very important since it uses feedback-Driven metacognition. Therefore, the teacher should be able to help learners through their learning journey and conduct them to stay in the right road or push them forward.

An interesting point of this method of hackathon is that assessing/ measuring the success of learning is highly relied on the company/challenge owner rather than teacher. The more satisfied is the challenge owner, the higher ranking for the learner can be preserved. Moreover, since teacher is in a close contact with the learners with providing individual feedback during the learning process, the teacher obtains a quite accurate view of the learner's processed. 

 

Solution context

The challenge we were working was to predict the future of waste management. We focused on the fastest-growing waste steam in the world: electronic waste (e-waste). The proposed solution mainly target the role of manufacturer as the original producer of e-waste by extending their responsibilities for what they produce.

The solution suggests reviewing the current business model especially the design, marketing and sale sectors. The principles of the design sector can change toward producing more durable products to allow easier repairing, refurbishing and even upgrading. Also, the priority can be using the more environmental-friendly material. In addition, when it is possible, manufacture can add some sensors to the critical parts of the product which can reflect the health of the component. These sensors can be connected to the main intelligent board of the product which can be used for IOT. In marketing and sale sector, the goal of customer satisfaction should include some methods and services that help customers to keep the product working for a longer time. It may include extended warranty, regular inspection, take-back policy, and even offering upgrading the product when applicable.

To track the situation of each product, employing digital twin technology is suggested. Using DT it is easier to present the current state of the product and its need for repairing or inspection. Also, the data stored in DT can be used for repairing, refurbishing and recycling.

 

During the hackathon event, the main challenge was to find useful and updated information through numerous amount of materials on the net. Especially, as it was a compact and short event, it was critical to use the time wisely and only select the most relevant and informative material and resources. On the other hand, being part of a team provides the opportunity of dividing the task and sharing the ideas and thoughts. Unfortunately, I couldn't benefit from this opportunity.

Solution target group

The target group of the challenge were policymakers and lawmakers to revise the EPR-style legislation and put more weight on the role of manufacturer in managing e-waste.

 

The target group of the hackathon is every person who is enthusiastic about facing their limits and learning new things by solving a real-world challenging practically and with the opportunity of meeting and working with a company.

 

Solution impact

Ideally, if the manufacturer take the responsibility of their product throughout the process from designing to the recycling, the dream of zero e-waste planet comes to the truth. The success of take-back program is a good example of the effectiveness of such an approach. Obviously, measuring the success of this strategy is not easy as many organizations and industry managers should be involved in such a big project.

 

The impact of hackathon is significant for both learners/participants and the companies/organizations. It is said that a hackathon is the driver of innovation and it is very likely that one idea that emerge from a hackathon impact the future of a company/organization. Besides, participants can use their finding through the hackathon, both from their own team and other teams, in their career or studies which may create a significant effect. Therefore, it is difficult to measure the success of hackathon. One easy method to have an estimation about the success of this method is collecting the level of satisfactory of participants and companies via questionnaires and feedback forms. In addition, the mentors of the teams can reflect quite accurate view about the success of learning amongst participants.

Solution tweet text

A producer is responsible for his product as a writer is responsible for his writing. Solving the problem of the fastest-growing waste stream (e-waste) is not possible without extending the responsibility of the producers and digitalizing the products to get benefit of IOT.

Solution innovativeness

The current situation of behavior of the producers around the world is almost the opposite. In some countries including the European ones the law of extending producer responsibilities (EPR) is adapted and the results is very promising. However, in the best cases such as Finland and Switzerland, the rate of recycling e-waste is about 50 %. It shows that the problem of e-waste can't be solved by only relying on consumers. In our solution several innovative strategies is suggested to extend the responsibility of producers on the shadow of digital twin and industry 4.

 

During recent years, hackathon has used widely to help companies to get fresh ideas for their business challenges. The innovativeness of using hackathons as educational / learning tool is astonishing. The main advantage of using this method for digital education is that since the learners are adults and have attended the event voluntarily, no up-down pressure is needed and participants are quite self-motivated and excited about learning and participation in the competences. It provides the ideal platform for learning.

Solution transferability

The main idea of extending the responsibilities of producers can be generalized for any business from food to clothing industries. For example, using more environmental-friendly material can be enforced for almost all other contexts and even the needed laws and acts are in force currently. However, the main idea of prolonging the life cycle of electronic devices is not applicable to some businesses such as food industry.

 

Organizing hackathon by companies either internally or externally is going to become a common practice worldwide. However, the idea of using hackathon as a learning tool is an innovative practice which can be used extensively by educational units. For example, holding a hackathon inside a campus can motivate students for learning new things and practice team work. As another example, organizing a small hackathon during the first days of starting a course or program, provides the opportunities of breaking ice between students and lecturers. It, also, helps students to get familiar with their classmates and make friendship.

 

 

Solution sustainability

The implementation of our ideas about extending the responsibilities of producers is not a simple task that one person or team can do. It needs long hours of discussion of experts and policymakers and lawmakers. During recent years the importance of this subject is getting more attention. Also, some companies have started promising actions to improve the situations already. For example, Apple has employed a recycling robot that can take part mobile phones much faster than human workers.
Since enforcing EPR act has shown its effectiveness in improving the situation of e-waste management, we believe that the world is going toward this direction in near and far future.

 

Using hackathon as a learning tool is a new approach, and we believe it will find its place in many education units in the near future. In the long term, it is not hard to imagine that hackathon becomes a common practice in digital units. For example, it can be used as a replacement for final exam of some course in which students use the knowledge they acquired during the course to solve a challenge.

 

 

Solution team work

During this hackathon, I worked individually to have my own time schedule since I was unable to work on the challenge during specific hours in day time.

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Partners & supporters

DigiEduHack is an EIT initiative under the European Commission's Digital Education Action Plan, led by EIT Climate-KIC and coordinated by Aalto University. This year the main stage event is hosted by the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union

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