Solution Overview

Solution Name:

E-Waste recycling for good

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One-line solution summary:

Initiate programs with local government, institutes and schools; Learn recycling of old electronics from Shanghai city and Guiyu town

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Pitch your solution.

With an estimated 20–50 million tons of e-waste produced annually worldwide; it is the fastest-growing stream of municipal solid waste. Management of e-waste is a significant environmental health concern. In developing countries, where most informal and primitive e-waste recycling occurs, people who live near these recycling facilities are exposed to dangerous chemicals with potentially long-term adverse health effects (Whitacre, 2013).

Huaqiangbei is located in Shenzhen, China, one of Shenzhen's notable retail areas, having one of the largest electronics markets in the world. Huaqiangbei also has earned its occidental nicknames as "China's Silicon Valley". Varied kinds of metals and secondhand electronic components are salvaged and traded here.

 Therefore, more formal research and studies should be conducted to improve awareness of this issue among global consumers. Evidence-based interventions and policy changes will be important to reduce the burden of disease among children and adults working in the e-waste recycling trade in Shenzhen.


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What specific problem are you solving?

As people process e-waste, workers—who are often children—are directly exposed to lead, cadmium, brominated flame retardants, and other toxic chemicals, many that present development risks. Chen (2013) noted that workshops are rarely well-ventilated, and workers wear little if any, personal protective equipment. Individually, these chemicals carry health risks; mixtures of them potentially further cause for concern. The e-waste that is not commercially viable is dumped or burned. Thus, workers and others in the community, including children, are exposed through inhalation of fumes, ingestion of dust, contact with water and soil, and other pathways.

As an alliance consisting of students from 8 schools in Shenzhen, we aim to investigate e-waste recycling management and put forward solutions.

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What is your solution?

Foundation

Our program will set up a foundation, which aims to help those whose health is damaged by toxic components contained in electronic waste, such as, mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium, and lithium. The program advocates for the group through strategic cooperation with the research center and the prevention of chronic diseases related to e-waste. The Foundation will work with schools and set up field trips in Electronics Recycling centers. Students will have the opportunity of visiting the recycling centers in big companies (like Liam and Daisy in Apple).

Cycle Of Old Electronics

The local government and institutions should work together to deal with the disposal of e-waste. In 2019, a new waste-sorting policy took effect in Shanghai. Although data are still needed to prove that the new policy helps eliminate e-waste, Shanghai set a good example for other cities to follow suit in regard to waste sorting.

According to the policy, batteries are put in a hazardous waste bin. If old appliances are small enough, there are two platforms to deal with old appliances. Aihuishou is China’s largest platform for recycling and selling second-hand electronics. They have offline stores in shopping malls throughout the city.


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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our solution targets people living in areas affected by e-waste pollution, such as Pearl River Delta, where “China's Silicon Valley” Huangqiangbei is located. Also, we also target people in the area to prevent the damage brought by e-waste pollution. By raising people’s awareness, setting up a foundation, and working with local government and institutions, we would like to provide support to the affected group as well as make people realize the importance and urgency of the issue. This also brings the benefit to everyone, not just in the area that faces this issue, but to others as well, since there is no border for e-waste pollution, and we all live on the earth planet. Guiyu, a small town in China, once the largest e-waste dump in the world and a hub in the global e-waste trade, witnesses an evolutional change in e-waste recycling.

According to the environmental monitoring data in 2018, the Air quality index (AQI) value is good 90.4% of the time, from January to June. Effective recycling is practical, and people should move the process forward.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Prevent the spread of misinformation and inspire individuals to protect themselves and their communities, including through information campaigns and behavioral nudges.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Electronic waste contains toxic components that are dangerous to human health, such as mercury, lead, cadmium. The negative health effects of these toxins on humans include brain, heart, liver, kidney, and skeletal system damage. It can also considerably affect the nervous and reproductive systems of the human body, leading to disease and birth defects. Improper disposal of e-waste is unbelievably dangerous to the global environment, which is why it is so important to spread awareness on this growing problem and the threatening aftermath. The growing stream of e-waste will only worsen if not educated on the correct measures of disposal.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

Educate people about how important recycling is for e-waste. It can begin with setting an example, making a commitment on people’s own to take any electronic device they have that’s no longer wanted or being used, and bring it to a recycling firm rather than throw it out with your regular trash or toss it in a desk drawer and writing about the environmental benefits of recycling e-waste on social media sites is also a good place to start spreading the word.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Noah(Xin Zhu) He, Anthony(Yu tong) Wu, Xi Chen

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Solution Team

 
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