Electronic waste at music festivals

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cop107 Roskilde Festival åbner i dag lørdag d.25.juni 2011 kl 18. Ingen tør ´vælte hegnet ´, som der ellers har været tradition for i mange år (Foto: Jonas Vandall / Scanpix. (Foto: Jonas Vandall Ørtvig/SCANPIX DANMARK 2011)
(Foto: Jonas Vandall / Scanpix. (Foto: Jonas Vandall Ørtvig/SCANPIX DANMARK 2011)



Yesterday a new city was created in Denmark. It has around 100.000 inhabitants and is the 4th largest city in the little Nordic Kingdom. Two days ago the city didn’t exist. All you could see was a plain field. Now the area has a population density higher than Singapore and Hong Kong, but instead of skyscrapers made of steel and glass, the area is full of colorfull tents. The existence of the temporary tent city is due to the Roskilde Festival, the largest music festival in Scandinavia. Every year it attracts more than 120.000 music loving visitors and most of these people camp on the festival area in the 8 days that the festival last. Many people bring speakers to their camp, so they can party in the four warmup days. But due to the lack of access to electricity, wireless speakers with rechargeable batteries are not well suited for the purpose, as there is nowhere to recharge the batteries. Instead people either do like the guy on the photo and bring a ghettoblaster that runs on disposable batteries or they make special home made festival speakers that run on car batteries.

Unfortunately people doesn’t always bring the speakers with them back home. An investigation made by students from the Technical University of Denmark in 2012 shows that a lot of electronic waste is created at Roskilde Festival. It is estimated that a total of 14 tons of electronic waste is created during the festival. Around 9,5 tons come from batteries and the rest is from different kinds of electronic equipment, mainly lamps and speakers. Only a minor fraction of the electronic waste is being sorted and handled in a appropriate way. The majority lays on the ground at the end of the festival and end up being incinerated.

The picture below is taken by me in 2011 on last day of Roskilde Festival and it shows how a young man who throws a ghettoblaster to the ground. Probably the man bought a cheap music player, because he knows that a festival is a though environment and there is a risk of theft and damage. Maybe the ghettoblaster was broken og else he just didn’t found that it was worth bringing the cheap equipment back home.



Smashing stereo

There is no reason to believe that Roskilde Festival should be fundamentally different than music festivals elsewhere in Europe. So in total there is a serious environmental problem. I estimate that around 250.000 people in Denmark go to music festivals with camping each year, which is around 4% of the total population. This is probably higher than the European average, but if we estimate that 2% of the population in average visit a music festival and the results from the Roskilde Festival is representative then 1400 tons electronic waste is created at music festivals in the European Union each year. And a large fraction of this is speakers and batteries from speakers. This number is based on a lot of assumptions, and has a high uncertainty, but even if the amount was only half of that, it clearly shows that there is a potential for designing a better and more circular solution for this problem.



speaker waste



New design brief – a long lasting speaker for festivals

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To design a speaker following circular design principles for use at music festivals.

Target group:
People who go to music festivals (mostly people 17-30 years old).

Business model:
Access Model – The product should be rented out to the festival goers.

Design requirements:
The design should be sturdy and solid
Minimum 12 hours battery life needed
Should be easy to carry
Should be possible to attach solar panel 
Possibility to join several speakers into one
Easy access to components for repair
All components and materials should be recyclable
The production price should not exceed €40.


Corrections to designbrief (end of June)
As the design process has unfolded I have made some changes to the requirements for the final design. Most importantly I concluded that it was not feasible to have a small solar panel on each speaker. Instead I considered the problems of speaker charging and clean energy on a system level. So instead of requiring a solar panel the new requirement would be: An easily rechargeable solution that runs on clean energy.



Circular design challenges

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In my previous post I wrote about the challenges of e-waste. The post became rather long, so here are some of the main points listed:

  • The cheapest products deliver low quality and therefore end up having a very short lifespan due to low user satisfaction.
  • Many small electronics products end up in the bin
  • The efficiency of the battery decrease over time, but in most speakers it is difficult if not impossible to replace
  • Because the market is so fragmented repair manuals are only available for the speakers that are most popular on the market
  • Often the low price means that repair is not feasible

Design brief

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In need of a direction

Two weeks ago we had the first long session where I tried to apply the different circular design strategies from the Product That Last framework for the first time. By my side was an industrial designer. The session worked mostly to become familiar with the framework. For each of the different strategies overall concept ideas were brainstormed. The ideas were on a very superficial level and pointed in many different directions.

I now have 6 weeks left of the project and it is time to set a goal and a more specific design direction. It is time to formulate a more specific design brief and make a plan.

Chosen design strategy:

I have chosen to follow two design strategies:
Design for ease of maintenance and repair
Design for standardisation and compatibility

It was within these two strategies that I found the most promising product ideas. That said I hope to incorporate elements from the other design strategies also.

The target group is young people between 15-35. The design should have a distinct appearance that make it stand out from the existing products on the market. This means that its selling point is more than just environmental friendliness and that the target group is broader than people who has sustainability as their top priority in purchasing decisions.

The production price should not be higher than existing quality products on the market. This means that it should be able to sell for 200€.

Goal and project plan
In 6 week it is unfortunately not realistic to come up with a complete finished product ready for production. But my goal is to go as far as possible and create a compelling vision of how the future of electronic equipment could look like in the future. I want to end up with a convincing and realistic concept for a long lasting speaker. In order to do this I will follow a design process with fast iterations using prototypes.

The end result should be a detailed design communicated through 3D renderings and a presentation video. Below the plan for the rest of the proces can be seen:

Skærmbillede 2015-05-19 kl. 10.56.28