WEEEkathon – young scientists bringing innovative ideas to solve the e-waste challenge through circularity

2 years ago Ruediger Kuehr Comments Off on WEEEkathon – young scientists bringing innovative ideas to solve the e-waste challenge through circularity

On 27 August – 3 September 2022, over 20 young scientists from across the world and 10 international experts gathered in Limerick, Ireland to discuss the e-waste challenge and the related circular economy scenarios.

The theme of the 2022 E-waste Academy for scientists (EWAS) edition, organized by UNU-UNITAR SCYCLE and hosted by the University of Limerick, was “Managing valuable and hazardous materials in e-waste: the route to circularity”.

The event was funded by the UNIDO-GEF LAC e-waste project, with the support of SERI and SRI.

PhD students, postdocs, and early career researchers from 16 project countries convened for an intensive 8-day programme that included expert lectures, hands-on workshops, field visits, and group work.

A wide range of presentations from various experts covered e-waste related topics, ranging from environmental and public health, global transboundary movements of e-waste, critical raw materials and hazardous e-waste, eco-design, data security etc. Study visits were also performed at e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities in Limerick and Cork, where the young scientists could interact with professionals working on field.

All scientists had the opportunity to present their own work related to e-waste: EWAS 2022 provided a platform for synergies and a space for sharing ideas and experiences across and beyond the regions.

Participants also took part in the first WEEEkathon, an e-waste marathon, working in groups to develop a research proposal related to e-waste. A panel of high-level experts and scientists evaluated the proposals, with the winning team exploring ‘Alternatives to Extended Producer’s Responsibility with a focus on the involvement of the informal sector.’

In an interview with a UNIDO representative, the winning team, comprised of Mehdi Golzar Ahmadi, Sofía Lara Schlezak, Nicolás Labra Cataldo, Narjes Fallah, and Mariana Saidón shared the following: “Our multidisciplinary backgrounds allowed us to think of the problem through different lenses. We developed a proposal to systematize e-waste management in Argentina. Our goal was to submit a realistic, feasible and relevant project from an environmental and social point of view. The competition was challenging since the other teams had done a great job, too. We hope to be able to implement our proposal soon.”

To keep up to date with the upcoming SCYCLE Academies on e-waste and environmental crime, you can monitor our dedicated website or our Linkedin page.