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E-waste recycling concept shortlisted for Sydney Uni’s Genesis program

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An innovative solution for recycling e-waste in a socially responsible way has been shortlisted for the University of Sydney’s Genesis program for startups.

The Genesis program supports the most promising startups from across the university community by facilitating access to mentors and advisors, entrepreneurship resources, media exposure and funding.

Shriya Srinagesh, a Master of Design student at the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, was recently shortlisted for her concept, E-Mine, an interactive digital interface for an e-waste solution that ethically instils values of social responsibility and encourages people to recycle their electronics. 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.

The startup company, Trash Impact formed by Srinagesh with Arvindan Kaviraj from Interactive Design and Varun Agarwal from the Business School, targets the rapidly rising problem of electronic waste in Australia with Australians producing the most amount of e-waste per inhabitant in the world. Though e-waste is growing three times faster than any other type of waste, the recycling rate is currently at only four percent.

Leveraging blockchain technology, E-Mine is an automated self-serve kiosk system placed in locations with high footfalls. People can use it to sell their old electronic devices, with the machine scanning the device and searching for the best price. The seller will receive digital tokens that can be converted to cash.

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

Rapid advances made in technology are causing a sustainability problem with newer electronic models released and replaced more frequently, and consumers upgrading their systems and devices much before the end of the product’s shelf life, making recycling difficult.

“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,” observes Srinagesh.

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

Looking to raise awareness on e-waste and start a conversation among younger users, Srinagesh seeks to address the misconceptions associated with recycling electronics while normalising the process for users.

“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,” says Dr Naseem Ahmadpour, Design Lab.

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