As a part of Georgia Tech's mission to bring awareness to sustainability, we were tasked to research, identify and design a solution to sustainable management of old electronics, or e-waste.
E-waste is an exponentially increasing issue-- with further tech advancements there is an even faster consumption and turnover of electronics, without sustainable methods -- leads to an exponential increase in electronic waste,
Within 12 weeks, our team conducted primary, secondary research, ideation and concept validation to design at E-cycle hub, a marketplace service that PC-builders can donate and share used PC parts and PC building tips.
What is the current state of e-waste?
First we needed to understand the current state of electronic waste. We wanted to know where does an electronic go after it's used? Who is involved in the electronic lifecycle? We conducted a literature review and compiled our findings to create electronic lifecycle map. From there, we looked for opportunities at each intervention point. We also looked for opportunities by analyzing existing solutions.
Our primary insight was that recycling methods for consumers are time-extensive, lack transparency and non-standardized across cities.
The second insight was that while there are many second-hand use options for consumers for functioning-electronics, much of electronic waste comes from PC parts such as hard drives, motherboards and graphic cards.
Who is our target user?
Our exploratory researched helped us scope down problem to sustainable PC part management. We then identified target groups that could possibly most benefit from used PC parts, which were PC-builders/hobbyists, and gamers who build and customize their own PC's for gaming performance.
Behavioral research showed PC-builders/gamers don't manage their PC parts because they value convenience, trust, knowledge and current recycling practices are inconvenient and lack transparency.
Another interesting insight we've learned about this group was that they are helpful in providing facts and knowledge within their specific groups. Amongst a PC building group, or a gaming group, they are more likely to help strangers with assembly, providing long step-by-steps on reddit. On surveys, while most did not recycle or sell their old products, a majority freely gave away their old items to friends.
Current solutions for sustainable e-waste management is time-intensive, lack trust and transparency. Yet, PC builders value efficiency, trust and are strongly motivated to help others in their community.
Generating ideas within requirements
Once we decided on helping PC builders and gamers manage waste via second-hand use, we listed requirements that were focused encouraging our users.
These requirements gave us a broad guideline for quick brainstorm/sketch session.
Defining requirements based on identified themes to use as ideation guideline
Sketches from individual and group brainstorming session.
We decided on three main ideas by voting on which ideas we liked best as a group. We fleshed out three concepts via storyboarding and discussed as a team. We evaluated each ideas against our five requirements, and E-waste Recycle Hub met our 5 requirements best, so we moved forward with this idea.
A mobile e-waste collection center locator that awards points to users who drop off their e-waste. Points are awarded for picking up and donating electronics at location
A local organization that meets once a month for PC building hobbyist that share used parts and learn how to refurbish and build PCs.
A donation shelf at each community center will have a shelf dedicated to used PC parts, and community members can drop off and pickup items, checking availability on the mobile app.
Using Figjam, we created user journey for two use cases, when a user is donating their old item and when they are receiving an item. For each user journey, we also created user flows for their mobile experience which we used as a guideline for our low fidelity wireframes.
I conducted a visual design study by evaluating sites commonly visited by our target user group which I had previously collected in our user surveys. I collected inspiration from Pinterest to align on and create a visual style guide. I used the feedback from our user testing to arrive at our high fidelity wireframes.
Our solution removed the physical obstacles of finding and accessing a donation shelf and our usability test showed the tasks were simple enough for users to complete. We wondered, how can the experience feel more rewarding? How can we better connect our potential users, PC-builders to befriend one another as they are in close proximity to each other?
This was a project completed within a semester at Georgia Tech but we are excited with our solution and eager to see how this project may evolve. While it focuses on a small population of users who are PC-builders and PC-building hobbyists-- a relatively niche hobby, we believe it has the ability to scale. What if this service existed for various hobbies that require other electronics? Perhaps a beauty community that shares hair appliances, or novice-chefs who can share kitchen appliances? The impact of ideas are exciting and this project was an eye-opening exercise sustainability.