Sparkling Science: Project “Recycling Heroes”

Using citizen science in schools to promote the circular economy in the electronics industry

About the project

The sale of electrical and electronic equipment is constantly increasing and, accordingly, e-waste has already become the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Our society must immediately address this challenge 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 students but also in society in general. To achieve this, the project combines principles of the circular economy with citizen science methods.

As citizen scientists, students develop a comprehensive questionnaire to ask their family or neighbors what electronic products are used for and over what period of time, and what happens to devices that are no longer used. They then analyze the results of the survey and consider what could be done to ensure proper disposal and increase recycling rates. In addition, other students are looking at developing electronic products that can be used in other current citizen science projects. For example, these new products can be developed as a mesh-up of e-waste parts and new parts in the sense of "Make scrap fly" – sustainability is the focus here! Subsequently, the developed prototypes will be duplicated in small numbers and distributed to other partner schools in the project. These schools will use the prototypes to collect data on temperature, noise, humidity and particulate matter in the school environment, for example, which will then be made available for citizen science projects.

The Recycling Heroes project aims to strengthen environmentally conscious behavior and recycling culture among the participating students, but also to promote an understanding of eco-design and development processes. In addition, with regard to citizen science, the students learn to develop suitable survey instruments and to sharpen their scientific thinking.

The project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the OEAD - Agency for Education and Internationalization and funded under the "Sparking Science" program.

The project runs from 1.9.2022 to 31.8.2024.

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