Esource – Hal Watts

Esource from hal watts on Vimeo.

Nominated for Designer of The Year 2013
Winner of a Helen Hamlyn Design Award 2012.
Semi Finalist in the James Dyson Award 2012.

The Problem:
Electrical and electronic waste (WEEE) is the fastest growing waste stream worldwide. The UK illegally exports up to 60% of its WEEE, largely to the west coast of Africa. One of the biggest centres for WEEE imports is Accra in Ghana, where some 30,000 people are dependant on informal recycling.
One of the worst practices in Accra is the burning of electrical wire to get rid of the insulation and recover the copper within. This is mostly carried out by teenagers and has terrible consequences on their respiratory and immune systems, it also leads to dioxin releases equivalent to 15% of the whole of Europe.

The solution:
Esource provides a sustainable cable recycling system for small scale recyclers in developing countries. It consists of an innovative bicycle powered cable granulator and a novel approach to separating copper and plastic using water. The machines are designed to be manufactured and maintained in country. Un-burnt copper can be sold for up to 30% more than burnt, providing a better income for workers and much healthier working conditions. The plastic insulation is also preserved providing people with a new source of income. The designs will be made available to local workshops who would produce and sell the machines to recyclers creating a system that would be economically driven to spread.

A new version of Esource is currently being developed that can process cables faster and is more robust. This will be tested in Accra in the summer before a final design is produced.

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