Tweaking the design of electronic goods could reduce poverty. Here’s how.

In 2016, two hundred printers and monitors were fitted with GPS trackers and dropped at recyclers and charities across the US. After just a few months, one in three had been shipped overseas, mostly across the Pacific to Asia. This experiment by MIT and the Basel Action Network reveals the tip of the electronic waste iceberg: experts estimate that as many as nine out of ten discarded computers eventually end up in developing countries.

waste GPS track

GPS Tracks for the US’ Electronic Waste.  Image: MIT Senseable City Lab, visualisation from the Basel Action Network’s E-Trash Transparency Project

 

These electronics exports can help people escape poverty, but they can also hinder them, and the key lies in product design.  [Read more…]

Three ways product design can reduce poverty overseas

 

One day, your smartphone will probably be recycled by a teenager on a rubbish tip; perhaps in Ghana or Nigeria. Months before that, it will likely have been repaired and sold on by an entrepreneur in the same country.  The health and livelihoods of these women and men depend on the way we design our products in the EU – the toxic chemicals we permit and the ease of repair that we require.  [Read more…]