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Electronics < > Ecologies #2 — WASTE

30 October 2023

Rubbish in front of Mountain

The second event in the ELECTRONICS < > ECOLOGIES series for ADM+S, WASTE will explore the material discards that attend each step of the supply chain for computational devices.

In Reassembling Rubbish, Josh Lepawsky argues that a more democratic electronics industry would involve “forms of public decision making in design and manufacturing” and that “production itself must be much more radically politicized.” To participate in reimagining electronics production, however, “citizens need access to data about wastes arising upstream in resource extraction and manufacturing” to counter the usual emphasis on downstream e-waste and recycling.

The second event in the Electronics < > Ecologies series for ADM+S, WASTE advances this agenda by exploring the material discards that attend each step of the supply chain for computational devices. Interrogating the current turn to circular design as a way out of the waste problem, we will focus on the very definition of waste that the electronics industry has adopted. The aim is to reveal blindspots, policy weaknesses, and problems that may arise as automated decision-making begins to influence product design, manufacturing and disposal.

Australia has one of the highest e-waste rates in the world. And while neighbouring countries have substantial markets for informal reuse and resale, current international regulations fall short of facilitating a legitimate secondary market for electronics due to outdated notions of “developing” economies’ needs.

Recycling is poor consolation for the environmental damage already wrought in the production and refinement of rare resources in technology supply chains. WASTE invites industry practitioners, designers, journalists and activists to join pioneers in the field of waste and discard studies to explore these issues, documenting the geopolitical and environmental dependencies involved in material extraction, use, reuse and recycling. Experiments that foreground the value of electronics discards and best practices for product stewardship are particularly welcome, to show the ongoing potential of technology’s many lives and afterlives.

Learning from already existing circular economies in the Asia-Pacific, and emerging best practices in sustainable user experience design, WASTE will share theories and approaches that support productive parasitism and durability as design priorities for electronics.

Image credit – Zane Griffin Talley Cooper


This event will be held in-person at the Peter Johnson Building, University of Technology Sydney.


Researchers interested in being considered for a select number of presentation slots are invited to submit a 2-page position paper by 21 September 2023. Learn more.


Melissa Gregg

Dr Melissa Gregg
Melissa Gregg is a consultant on sustainable and responsible technology design and an International Advisory Board Member for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society (ADM+S). For the past decade, she led User Experience Research in the Client Computing Group at Intel, driving a range of product initiatives including the research that launched Intel EVO laptops. As Senior Principal Engineer in the Software and Advanced Technology Group, she established the first product team focused on carbon reduction and green software to achieve corporate-wide Net Zero commitments. 

Professor Anna Cristina Pertierra
Professor Anna Cristina Pertierra is an anthropologist with international expertise in urban ethnography, consumption and everyday economies, digital media, and popular culture in the Global South.
She is an Associate Dean Research in the School of Design in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building (DAB). A recognised academic leader, she is currently the co-Chair of the UTS x Powerhouse Research Committee and the Deputy Chair of DAB’s Academic Board.

ADM+S Chief Investigator Heather Horst

Prof Heather Horst
Prof Heather Horst is a Chief Investigator at the Western Sydney University node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society (ADM+S).
Heather is Professor and Director of the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. A sociocultural anthropologist by training, she researches material culture and the mediation of social relations through digital media and technology.

Adam Minter
Adam Minter is a writer and columnist with nearly two decades reporting experience in China and the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to his work as a columnist at Bloomberg, his writing has appeared in a range of publications, from the Atlantic to ArtNews.
He is the author of two critically-acclaimed and best-selling books: “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade” (2013); and “Second: Traveling the New Global Garage Sale” (2019).


Sarah Kim
Sarah Kim is the Owner of E-Reuse Services, Inc., (ERS) which provides consulting and collaboration services to the electronics repair, recycling, and refurbishing industries. ERS hosts the Electronics Reuse Conference (ERC) founded in 2003 and in January of 2018, ERS launched the E-Reuse Network (ERN); a collaboration forum that allows its Members to get exclusive deals from the industry’s most respected vendors. Sarah’s passion for the industry started when she watched per parents start a refurbishing business in 2000. Sarah spent seven years working at the company and running ERC until she opened ERS to focus on the industry’s specific needs. Sarah travels worldwide to speak at conferences and deliver training to promote the reuse and recycling of electronic equipment. She was a member of the Responsible Recycling (R2) Technical Advisory Committee from 2012 – 2021.

Nicole Stevens
Nicole Stevens is the Account Director – Enterprise and Government at Moorup. Moorup is an Australia B Corp Certified company driving the device circular economy and the elimination of e-waste in Australia and New Zealand. Moorup has helped hundreds of Enterprise, Government and Business customers achieve their ESG goals through their simple, secure and sustainable trade in program.
Nicole has lead the strategy, design and execution of this program, which has been benchmarked as one of the world’s best mobility trade in programs in this segment. Moorup are Telstra and JB HiFi Business’s sustainability partner and also offer a solution to consumers via Officeworks. Before Moorup, Nicole had a 20+ year career at an Australian Telco holding several General Management roles in Customer and Employee Experience, Product Launches and Sales. Nicole is passionate about closing the digital divide in Australian and through Moorup, aims to donates 5% of devices purchase to Australians at risk of experiencing digital exclusion. 

Carrie Snyder
Carrie Snyder is the founder of a sustainability consultancy called More Than Sustainability with a focus on open-sourced research and industry collaboration.
Before consulting, she developed extensive expertise working at Cisco Systems in electronics product take back, repair, and reuse, including being a Director managing a closed-loop supply chain with an annual budget of tens of millions of dollars.
Carrie also designed and taught for five years a highly-student rated class at Harvard Extension School on the circular economy. She holds a bachelors degree in mathematics from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Virginia.

Professor Cameron Tonkinwise
Professor Cameron Tonkinwise is an international expert in design studies and transition design and the Research Director of the Design Innovation Research Centre at UTS. He writes and speaks extensively on the power of design to drive systems-level change to achieve more sustainable and equitable futures.
Cameron has long advocated for the field of Design Studies and its importance to ensuring the social responsibility of design professionals. His expertise has reshaped traditional thinking around how designers should be educated, and he has established Design Studies programs at the Parsons The New School for Design (New York), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and UTS, among others, that have transformed international design curricula. He has written a number of influential articles on design thinking, design ethics, design research and speculative design.

Screenshot 2023-10-18 at 3.57.57 pm

Professor Gay Hawkins
Gay Hawkins is a research professor at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University. She researches in the areas of discard studies, STS, diverse economies and material politics. Her 2006 book The Ethics of Waste has been influential in the development of discard studies. She is currently working on a major project with colleagues titled ‘Investigating Innovative Waste Economies: redrawing the circular economy.’ For 2023/24 she is Scholar in Residence at the Powerhouse Museum working with a team designing a major exhibition on Plastics as Kin.

Thomas Lee
Thomas Lee is a design academic with a background in communications, literary and cultural studies. His research involves understanding people through technology and technology through people. Recently this has involved the cultural dimension of industries that involve living organisms and technology, such as livestock farming, synthetic biology and biodiversity conservation. He uses a range of qualitative research approaches to understand what emerging technological changes mean and what benefits and barriers they might offer to relevant stakeholders and communities.

Rachael Wakefield-Rann
Rachael is a social scientist with an interdisciplinary background in sustainability science, geography and political science. Her research across academia, government and industry is focused on systemic approaches to creating more sustainable resource futures that support human health as part of broader ecological health. In particular she specialises in whole-of-system approaches to the circular economy, including the redesign of product service systems to improve product stewardship, reuse and repair, and ways of addressing toxicants and pollutants in circular supply chains.

Simran Talwar
Dr. Simran Talwar is Research Principal and Circular Economy Lead in the Resource Stewardship group at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS. She has over 13 years of research and industry experience in circular economy, policy, and business strategy. Simran leads and manages various projects related to circular economy, product stewardship and net zero pathways, working closely with industry, local, state, federal governments, and international development agencies. She is principal advisor to the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence. 

Nick Florin
Dr. Nick Florin is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), University of Technology Sydney. He is also a Director of the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence. Nick leads collaborative research projects with industry and government partners advancing resource and product stewardship, circular economy transitions and supply chain sustainability. 

Lorenzo Angeli
Lorenzo Angeli (he/him) is Assistant Professor at the Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Trento, Italy. With the Critical Technologies Lab he co-leads, his research investigates the social impact of computing, and how to teach it to students in computing disciplines. Lorenzo’s work is a multi-disciplinary mix, combining theories and practices from computing, sociology of technology, education technologies, sustainability of computing, innovation and entrepreneurship, and innovative pedagogies for computer science. Lorenzo got his PhD in ICT in late 2021, but has been teaching, doing research, and working in European projects for 8 years. His latest work focuses on how to build sustainable digital education infrastructure, Challenge-Based Learning pedagogies in computing education, and ethics of Artificial Intelligence.

Mela Bettega
Mela Bettega (she/her) is a PhD candidate in Digital Media at the Nova University of Lisbon. She graduated in Sociology at the University of Trento and gained experience in human-computer interaction and co-design by working in a research project centred around electricity demand shifting. Her PhD research focuses on the use of participatory design to support groups of people in finding digital tools better fitting their needs; within this setting, her interest for sustainability is reflected in the choice to rely exclusively on off-the-shelf digital tools, with a specific focus on Digital Commons. She recently started to conduct research on hardware reuse and reparability as a way of optimising resources.

Raul Masu
Raul Masu (he/him) is an assistant professor in Computational Media and Arts (CMA) Thrust, at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (GZ). Raul studied music composition and electronic music at the Music Conservatory of Trento (Italy), and holds a PhD in digital media from Nova University of Lisbon – Faculty of Science and Technology (Portugal). With more than a decade of research experience, Raul co-authored around 50 papers published in the field of HCI and music technology. He is particularly active in the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) community, and is one of the initiators of the NIME Eco Wiki, a repository to support a sustainable practice for music technology design. His current research focuses on 1) longevity and sustainability of interactive (music) systems, 2) entanglements, collaboration, and communities, and 3) embodied interaction.


30 October 2023
Event Category:


University of Technology Sydney