New e-waste tracking system developed

New e-waste tracking system developed

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

InnoCentive, a crowd-sourced problem-solving company that offers prizes for solutions, the non-profit advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund and data storage company EMC Corporation have announced the conclusion of a challenge aimed at finding a way to better track shipments of used electronics.

The challenge was issued in order to find a scalable way to track e-scrap to its final destination in hopes of adopting more environmentally-sustainable ways of managing the material. Participants in the challenge were asked to help develop a process or device that would allow electronics manufacturers to follow what happens to their products as they make their way through the waste stream.

More than 60 solutions were submitted, with three winning solutions selected. The winners will split a $10,000 prize. The solutions included:

  • The use of a unique 12-digit code printed directly onto each subsystem component using passive radio-frequency identification ink.
  • The use of an electronic tag that combines identification codes printed on components with an online crowd-sourcing platform that together yield a holistic picture of where electronic components end up.
  • A tracking system that leverages a sheet of labels printed with unique, encrypted codes for each major component in the system. Similar to those used in the food industry, the labels would be applied to and follow subsystem components as they move through the disposal process.

EMC plans to hold sessions with the individuals who submitted the winning solutions to examine any synergies among their ideas and find a way to implement their solutions. The company also plans to share the winning ideas with its peers in the industry in order to help spur the adoption of more environmentally-sustainable management of e-scrap.

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