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Effective disposal of small electronic waste

Effective disposal of small electronic waste

What strategies can be implemented to support individuals in disposal of small electronic waste?

Our challenge

In Lithuania, as well as worldwide, the amount of electronic waste collected annually continues to grow. However, a significant issue persists with regards to small appliances, as they are not adequately collected by responsible companies. While most people understand that old refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers qualify as electronic waste and know how to dispose of them correctly, there is a lack of awareness regarding small electronic waste. Consequently, such waste is often indiscriminately thrown into municipal waste containers along with other trash.

Study format
Application period
28 August – 29 September 2023
Study period
5 October – 22 December 2023
Hosting university
Kaunas University of Technology
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Learning outcomes

Learning Outcome 1

Identify and formulate a research question


Learning Outcome 2

Work effectively in interdisciplinary and multicultural teams


Learning Outcome 3

Create innovative ideas and developed prototypes by solving complex real-world challenges


Learning Outcome 4

Clearly present the created solutions


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Multiple disposal options for electronics and household appliances are available in Lithuania and other developed countries. There are specialised containers for electronic waste available in shopping centres. E-waste can be returned at any place of purchase. Devices can be deposited at large-scale waste collection sites; many waste management and recycling companies even offer free pickup services from people’s home. Furthermore, individuals can bring all their e-waste to designated collection points and receive monetary compensation as an incentive for proper waste sorting.
Despite the prohibition on disposing of all electronic waste in municipal containers, small electronic waste frequently ends up in such containers. Consequently, this waste may find its way to landfills, posing environmental and health risks due to the presence of hazardous substances that require proper disposal and recycling. Moreover, these devices contain valuable non-ferrous and precious metals, which can be extracted through environmentally friendly recycling, thereby conserving natural resources. This recycling process can be repeated multiple times, emphasizing the significance of recognising the usefulness of discarded resources. While various methods and extensive communication exist on this topic, people predominantly focus on managing larger electronic devices like refrigerators and dishwashers. However, electronics encompass a broad range of items that require electrical connection or batteries for operation, including electric toothbrushes, electronic cigarettes, computer mice, phones, charger cables, earphones, electronic toys, etc.

There are numerous ways available for the proper disposal of electronic waste, and currently there is a significant emphasis on education regarding this topic. Waste management entities, media companies, sustainability-focused organisations, and public associations actively communicate about this issue. However, these methods do not completely solve the problem. We believe that unconventional and contemporary solutions are necessary to help individuals identify small outdated devices as electronic waste, encourage them not to discard such items in municipal waste containers but collect them alongside larger equipment and deliver to waste management companies. Given the abundance of small electronic equipment on the market that requires proper post-usage, we need innovative approaches in addressing this collectively.

Hosting university

Kaunas University of Technology

Kaunas University of Technology

Challenge provider

EMP Recycling