Application of Citizen Science in Schools to boost the Circular Economy in the Electronics Industry
The sale of electrical and electronic equipment is constantly increasing and, accordingly, electronic waste (e-waste) has already become the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Our society must immediately address this challenge in order to ensure a more sustainable management of our planet’s resources and curb environmental pollution.
The Recycling Heroes project aims to raise awareness about e-waste, especially among secondary school pupils but also in society in general, by combining circular economy principles with Citizen Science methods.
As Citizen Scientists, pupils develop a comprehensive questionnaire to ask their family or neighbors regarding the usage of electronic products and their period of use, as well as what happens to equipment that is no longer used. These pupils then analyze the results of the survey and consider what could be done to ensure proper disposal and increase recycling rates. Moreover, other pupils work on the development of electronic products that can be employed in other current Citizen Science projects. These new products can be developed, for example, as a mesh-up of electronic scrap parts and new parts – sustainability is the focus here! Subsequently, the developed prototypes will be reproduced in small numbers and distributed to other partner schools in the project. These schools will use the prototypes to collect for instance data on temperature, noise, humidity, and particulate matter in the school environment, which will then be made available for Citizen Science projects.
The Recycling Heroes project is intended to strengthen environmentally conscious behavior and recycling culture among the participating pupils, but also to promote an understanding of eco-design and development processes. In addition, the pupils learn to develop suitable survey instruments and to sharpen their scientific thinking regarding Citizen Science.
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