In recent years the market for electronic products has skyrocketed. Due to rapid innovations, devices get replaced more frequently than ever before. Often, they end up forgotten in a drawer after only one to two years. Only a small percentage of those products get repaired, recycled, or rather end up in African landfills. People tend to keep old devices because they are emotionally bonded to them or they have difficulties finding appropriate ways to dispose of the products. Due to the fact that the resources in those “lost” devices are not recycled, new materials have to be mined, eventually leading to irreversible environmental destruction. Another recurring issue is incorrect disposal of e-waste – especially Li-Ion batteries are prone to causing fires in waste sorting facilities and therefore leading to extensive damage of expensive infrastructure.

Core is an urban mining service assisting people in bringing their old electronics back
into the circular economy. Via the app, a shipping box can be requested. The customer then sends it to a refurbishing or recycling company. The proceeds either go back to the
user or can be donated.

Overview of the issue and the approach: We started the project by looking at problems big cities are currently facing or will be facing in the near future. One issue that stood out to us was waste management. After conducting several surveys and interviews with experts, we saw the potential of a new service addressing the problem of e-waste disposal. Recycling is a growing market nowadays, but the management of electronic waste is less discussed less often.
There are already some facilities focusing on recycling e-waste. However, those companies have limited access to the hidden treasures in the people’s drawers. On the other hand, repair cafés refurbishing products suffer from the same issue.

What we wanted to achieve is to create a network that connects all stakeholders. Providing them with a platform makes accessing old and/or broken electronics easier than ever before. All of this is part of a backend service system which is the missing link between end-user and local recycling and refurbishing partners. Our main aim is to raise awareness for this topic through a publicity campaign. Here it is especially important to approach people kindly, to open them up to the problem, and awaken their interest in contributing to it. In order to get customers involved an effortless user experience for the service model was created.
The essence of the solution: Core is a service model that makes the recycling of old electronics effortless. The topic is brought to attention by a marketing campaign, the user is then guided through the process by an app.
The stakeholders in the project: recycling facilities, they receive broken electronics ready for recycling

logistics partners, they help shipping the core boxes, while maintaining a green image

refurbishing partners, they receive broken electronics for repair

city management, they invest into the service to maintain a more sustainable city-image

end-user, the starting point of the movement

waste management companies, profit from less wrongly disposed of electronic parts, and therefore fewer problems during waste separation