Artist: Hal Watts
Electrical and electronic waste (WEEE) is the fastest growing waste stream worldwide. The UK illegally exports 70% of its WEEE, largely to the west coast of Africa. One of the biggest centres for WEEE imports is Accra in Ghana, where some 40,000 people are dependant on informal recycling.
One of the worst practices in Accra is the burning of electrical wire to get rid of the insulation and recover the copper within. Disturbingly, this is mostly carried out by teenagers and has terrible consequences on their respiratory and immune systems, it also leads to dioxin releases equivalent to 15% of the whole of Europe.
This is where Hal’s idea comes in : ‘Esource’ provides a sustainable cable recycling system for small scale recyclers in developing countries. It consists of an innovative bicycle powered cable granulator and a novel approach to separating copper and plastic using water. The copper is separated from the plastic without any hazardous fumes. In addition to this, the separated plastic can also be reused.
The machines are designed to be manufactured and maintained in the country. Un-burnt copper can be sold for up to 20% more than burnt, providing a better income for workers and much healthier working conditions.
The designs will be made available to local workshops in African centres who would produce and sell the machines to recyclers creating a system that would be economically driven to spread. And therefore hopefully make the world a bit of a better place.
The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art agreed and presented Hal with the Helen Hamlyn Design Award 2012. Helen Hamlyn (also an RCA graduate, in womenswear) is the widow of Lord Hamlyn, the publisher who passed away in 2001. According to the Sunday Times she is amongst the top 20 biggest charity donators in the UK in 2012.
10 RCA Graduate Interviews 2012
Carlo Volpi , Menswear MA
Trine Hav Christensen, Womenswear MA
Fatma Bucak, Photography MA
Daniel Pollitt, Menswear MA
Alexander Lamb, Menswear MA
Isabelle Held, History of Design MA
Simon Foxall, Painting MA
Nathan Tom Pass, Textiles MA
Hal Watts, Innovation Design Engineering MA
Michael Warren, Product Design MA