Injecting Sustainability into Product Design to Prevent Electronic Waste
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INJECTING SUSTAINABILITY INTO PRODUCT DESIGN TO PREVENT Electronic Waste

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The MTC has utilised its experience in both design for disassembly and human centred product design to produce a demonstrator that showcases how small design changes can have a large positive impact on preventing electronic waste, creating a more sustainable product

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

Electronic waste (E-waste) is an ever growing challenge in industry. In 2019 53.6 million tonnes of E-waste was produced, of which only 17% was recycled. The MTC has used experience and innovative design as a means of tackling the issue.

A way of reducing E-Waste is to inject sustainability at the initial design phase, ensuring the product has been designed with circular economy in mind.

This involves adding simplicity to design, such as reduced part count or ease of disassembly for repair, replacement or recycling.

An electric toothbrush was identified as an electric product commonly found in landfill, therefore, benefiting from a sustainable design journey.

Responsible design is no longer optional, and sustainability should be at the forefront of every designer’s mind. The innovation and flexibility of the MTC allowed the team to inject this sustainable thinking into an existing design. Successfully, we redesigned an electronic toothbrush to be more sustainable, showcasing how small changes in design can positively impact sustainability without impeding on user needs.
Harmail Sandhu, Design Engineer, MTC

MTC'S SOLUTION

Perform comprehensive research and design studies with multiple concepts undergoing design physical testing.

Embodiment of sustainable design and design for disassembly good practices within e-products.

Utilising the MTC design process to solve a problem, highlighting that minor changes in a design can not only aid the user but also the planet.

Automation capability to ensure the design is industry friendly.

A re-designed electric toothbrush that is a vessel of good design techniques and practices.

Tootbrush
In product design, design for assembly, resource efficiency at all stages and end of life is going to be key to a sustainable future. This is one step to enabling a circular supply chain.
Marie Wells, Head of Sustainability, MTC

THE PROJECT OUTCOME

A working demonstrator unit showcasing the automated disassembly and design of an electric product.

Reduction in the number of components and different materials used.

Reduction in multi-material components.

Robust and interchangeable design allowing reuse and re-purpose.

Design for disassembly and careful material use allows for easy recycling of components.

The electric toothbrush showcases human centric design, from the form to the multipurpose LED indicators.

Highlighted shortfalls in circular economy of electronics such as PCBs and sensors, for future MTC investigation.

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BENEFITS TO THE CLIENT

Re-design of an electronic product to ensure it is sustainable throughout the products life.

Circular sustainable packaging models used to re-purpose packaging as a jig for disassembly.

Engagement with industry to ensure the products packaging is also sustainable, with a circular sustainability model.

Imaginative engagement across different sectors, technologies and organisations.

Design thinking approach utilised to identify user / automation needs and critical disassembly pain points then addressed with solutions.

Creative sustainable business models for products, to appeal to both users and businesses. (loyalty schemes, recycle into alternative product ranges, reuse for developing countries).