Thursday, July 8, 2010

Architecture for EE-waste

Although ICT may be a cornerstone in our economy, it creates a lot of waste. Loaded with heavy metals, poisonous chemicals etc, this waste should be recycled responsibly to keep the harmful substances to pollute the environment.

On my recent visit to Nairobi I had the pleasure of visiting Computers for Schools Kenya in my capacity as a FAIR board member. CFSK is one of FAIR's partners, receiving shipments of equipment for schools. An important part of FAIR's strategy is to implement a so called take-back system, whereby we import the same amound of EE-waste back to Norway for recycling, as we ship out.

CFSK is also running their own recycling operation, and I was invited on a tour to look at their facilities.

The architecture of the site surprised me initially, but turned out to be an obvious solution. You see, shipping of goods generally uses shipping containers - CFSK receive these with equipment, and FAIR gets their take-back packaged the same way. So why not use these as building blocks to replace bricks and mortar. And as you see from the picture, that is exactly what CFSK did - shipping containers stacked ontop of each other formed the walls of the operation, and they also provided separate rooms inside the house. Add some internal stairways and roofing, and voila - you have a house.