E-Waste: An Industrial Designer’s Perspective

William Bullock, FIDSA, Professor of Industrial Design | University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

This session concerns the industrial designer’s role in creating much of the electronic waste (e-waste) generated by the developed nations of the world. It is industrial designer’s work in particular that stimulates sales and creates attractive new products with newer features that the customer desires. This has created our current wasteful paradigm where discarded electronics are dumped on developing nations. In a few short years the e-waste produced by these countries will exceed those of all Western nations combined so this will increasingly be our problem to solve. By using our talents and abilities more wisely, industrial designers can lead in the development of more sustainable solutions to the e-waste problem.  Included in this paper is a review of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an industry and education partnership that conducts collaborative research and facilitates networking and information sharing on this growing international problem.