At the Singapore event, we were focused on exploring whether a consumer exists in the circular economy. From being a shareholder to a stakeholder, this session explored the activist roles we need to take on instead of being just passive consumers when making the shift from a linear to a circular economy. We chose to focus on Consumer Electronics and Appliances as an example of the difference we can make when we become aware of how our products are designed, manufactured, used and disposed of at the end stage of their usage.
We had 30+ participants who attended our event. They came from all age groups and backgrounds. For many of them, it was the first time they have heard of OSCE days and what the global community is doing. They were quite excited to hear how they too could be part of this movement. The Circular Economy concept is new for most of Southeast Asia. Although the manufacturing sector in Singapore has a yearly conference on sustainable manufacturing and processes to remanufacture and recycle their waste materials.
Our main activity was to do a product tear down where we brought in some common household electric and electronic devices. Could our participants identify the object when it is stripped down to its parts? What parts are in a common modem or a DVD player?
At Sustainable Living Lab, we have a popular volunteer program called Repair Kopitiam (modelled after the Repair Cafes in Amsterdam. Kopitiam means coffee shop in the local language). At the Repair Kopitiam sessions, volunteer Repair Coaches teach residents basic repair skills to give their products a new lease of life. The experience of these Repair Coaches were invaluable to our session as they showed tips and techniques to open up and take apart the items the groups had in a systematic manner.
From the session, we learnt that it was the first time that most of the participants ever took apart such items before. They didn’t know that there were various types of screws and adhesives that were used to hold the items together. There were some participants who are engineers by training who explained who the different mechanisms that make items such as a modem, a fax machine and a coffee machine work.
After the tear down, we had a design session for participants to rethink and redesign the way the items given to their groups. Some ideas include only using one material instead of various different materials as main parts, having modular design and even including a full cycle of repair and recycling services by companies.
The session managed to garner a lot of interest in the Circular Economy and the open source movemet. Sustainable Living Lab is collecting research on the applying the Circular Economy to Southeast Asia. We hope to connect to more cities in Southeast Asia and greater Asia to increase awareness and hopefully inspire action on creating more sustainable systems in developing countries. Also, we hope to make these solutions Open Sourced!
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