A fully drivable, standard-size car made only from electronic waste materials has been showcased by the Formula E team Envision Racing.
The Formula E Gen3 ‘Recover-E’ was launched at the ExCeL exhibition centre in London last month, ahead of the last e-race of the 2022-3 season. The vehicle, made from electronic waste donated by Music Magpie and schoolchildren, is intended to focus attention on the growing problem of waste from discarded electronic devices.
1. 75 million tonnes of e-waste
By 2031, the world is expected to be heaving under the weight of 75 million tonnes of e-waste generated when items such as batteries, chargers, disposable vapes, mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players, and plugs are thrown away. The United Kingdom was the world’s number two e-waste culprit last year.
According to Interesting Engineering, “the rising popularity of single-use vapes” is a big part of the problem, with as many as 1.3 million of the devices discarded every single week in the UK alone.
2. Radical solutions
Manchester-based artist and designer Liam Hopkins worked with Envision Racing on the project. The founder of art and design studio Lazerian, Hopkins specialises in combining traditional design with technology and digital concepts to create radical solutions to today’s problems. “Unfortunately, today, we choose to discard and replace electronics instead of repairing and recycling them, leading to a global e-waste crisis,” Hopkins said.
Through design and creativity, we want to show the issue of e-waste and its potential to accelerate the creation of a circular economy.Liam Hopkins, artist and designer
3. Changing perceptions
Envision Racing joined Formula E, the world’s single-seater electric car motorsport championship, back in 2014. The 16-race, eleven team event began in 2012 to ignite the use of electric technology in the car industry and promote more sustainable mobility.
Changing the perception of electric vehicles was a large part of the challenge. Former Formula 1 driver Jenson Button has described the experience of e-racing, talking to New Scientist. He said “Extreme E is very different from most motor sports because it’s not a combustion engine, it’s electric power with batteries.”
The great thing about an electric motor is there’s only one moving part, so the reliability is very good. Electric vehicle (EV) power is immediate. You have immediate torque when you get on the throttle.Jenson Button, Former Formula 1 driver
4. The importance of recycling
As the world has increasingly adopted electronics not only for vehicles but for portable devices however, e-waste has in turn become an issue.
Through this campaign, the team wants to increase awareness of the human impact of e-waste and the need to reuse and recycle old electrical products.Envision Racing, a part of Envision Group, headquartered in Shanghai
Millions of lithium batteries are discarded every year instead of being recycled. There is huge demand for the rare earth materials needed in electronics and this has led to human rights abuses as well as ground and water pollution where the metals are mined. Recycling will not only reduce e-waste but help to manage demand for the elements involved.