Promoting sustainable consumer behaviour among EU citizens

E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the EU. According to the European Parliament, less than 40% of e-waste is recycled, while the rest is unsorted. This creates a major obstacle for reducing ecological footprint and a loss of valuable raw materials in electronic devices. Returning e-waste to the raw materials production loop is critical for Europe’s industries; enabling the transition to a green, digital and circular economy.

A consumer plays a vital role in the e-waste value chain. From washing machines to laptops and mobiles phones, these are household equipment and electronic appliances of modern life which contain valuable raw materials and present a major opportunity for recycling. Engaging our society at large will help transform e-waste into an opportunity and help Europe transition to a circular society.

Two-year EIT RawMaterials funded project Re-Play was launched in January 2020 to reach and engage the general public through events and exhibitions at science centres and museums in Italy, the Netherlands and Finland, with the ultimate goal of promoting changes in consumer behaviour and perception of e-waste. Project Re-Play was led by the University of Trento together with research centers Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Hub Innovazione Trentino – Fondazione (HIT), Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. VTT, Finnish science center Heureka, the Dutch museum for culture and science Museon, the Italian science museum Muse, the Restart Project, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and the Shair.Tech startup.

The Re-Play project raises awareness on the alarming increase in e-waste. The project tackles consumer behaviour as a starting point of e-waste journey into paths within the Circular Economy. Such messages need to be delivered in clear and effective ways, so Re-Play also aims to train museum professionals and communicators with creative and innovative tools.

Fabio Ferri, Education Manager at EIT RawMaterials, Re-Play Project Officer

Re-Play promotes more sustainable and efficient use of raw materials in electronic devices, including smartphones, and the reduction of e-waste by encouraging sustainable consumption and lifestyle. The project informs people about the lifecycle of electronics and the impact mining, production and waste processing has on health and the environment. Re-Play empowers people to repair, reuse, and recycle their electronics through its educational activities.

Re-Play empowers science centres and museums with novel ways to raise awareness about e-waste with their audiences.

Prof Alessandro Rossi, Principal Investigator at the University of Trento UniTrento and Re-Play Project Coordinator

Some of the kids just sat here dismantling old e-machines for more than two hours and kept returning for more!

Noora Piirainen, Event Supervisor

All the materials produced in the project are available under a Creative Commons licence to help ensure these formats can be repeated and taken across Europe by communications professionals and enthusiasts. Some contents will be embedded in master programmes provided by the University of Trento. The exhibitions will become part of permanent collections in some museums and the Re-Play activities will continue locally as side programmes.

Learn more