Electric racer made from discarded electronics highlights e-waste problem
The disposable nature of modern gadgetry is leading to a worrying e-waste problem. To highlight the issue, Envision Racing and artist Liam Hopkins teamed up to create a Formula E Gen3 racecar built from discarded phones, laptops, vape sticks and other devices.
"Unfortunately today we choose to discard and replace electronics instead of repairing and recycling them leading to a global e-waste crisis," said Hopkins in a press statement. "Through design and creativity, we want to show the issue of e-waste and its potential to accelerate the creation of a circular economy."
According to the World Economic Forum, only a fraction of the roughly 50 million tonnes of tech thrown away each year is recycled, and a more recent report from the Global E-Waste Monitor suggests that figure could rise to 74.7 million metric tonnes by 2030.
In 2021, Envision Racing joined forces with Kids Against Plastic, COP26 and Glasgow City Council to build a scale model of a Formula E racecar using single-use plastic.
The company says that the effort was such a success that a partnership with Hopkins was formed to help raise awareness among young people by designing and building a replica made from e-waste. While he worked on that, a Waste to Race competition was launched that challenged children and young adults to design their own scaled-down e-waste model.
After 12 months of intensive activity, the full-size Recover-E rolled out for a media launch at July 29's Hankook London E-Prix, the closing race in Season 9 of the ABB Formula E World Championships.
The drivable replica is essentially the guts of a Formula E Gen3 electric racecar with an outer shell made from old tech donated by UK businesses, online retailer Music Magpie and school children.
Motherboards and outer covers from mobile workstations like Macbooks have been used to shape the main body section. Previously treasured iPhones have been lined up alongside single-use vapes to form the front wing. Power cables hang from a rear wing made using tablets. There are games consoles dotted here and there, and even an old tennis racket makes a guest appearance.
"Alongside testing new battery technology for cars, we are on a mission to tackle e-waste and ensure the precious metals, minerals and materials in old laptops, mobile phones and other electrical devices are extracted and reused," said Envision Racing's MD and CTO, Sylvian Filiipi.
"If the millions upon millions of Lithium batteries that are found in vapes and other products are recycled, it will dramatically reduce both the need for rare earth mineral mining and the large energy needed to create the batteries from scratch. We want to increase awareness of e-waste and help build a ‘circular economy’ where electrical products are reused or recycled, not thrown away."
Source: Envision Racing