The Garbage Watch. Photography by Sun Lee.

21 July 2020

The Garbage Watch. Built from the tech the world threw away in the trash. Most of the 50 million tonnes of electronic waste that’s generated every year is treated like garbage even though it isn’t. Instead it contains many of the world’s precious metals like silver, platinum, copper, nickel, cobalt, aluminium and zinc. You’ll find 7% of the world’s gold in e-waste.

In other words, millions of tonnes of the stuff people normally pay to dig up out of the ground is heading straight back into it. To avoid trashing our planet we need to start figuring out how to re-use the stuff we already have.

So Vollebak’s Garbage Watch started with a very simple idea. What if garbage isn’t garbage? What if it’s simply pre-assembled raw materials that we can use to make new things. It’s why everything you can see on the Garbage Watch used to be something else – a motherboard from your computer, a microchip in your smartphone, or wiring from your TV. Working in collaboration with the Wallpaper* Re-Made project, the Garbage Watch reframes an often invisible and hazardous end of the supply chain. Over the next year we’ll be going on a journey from prototype to product, sourcing components from sustainable e-waste recycling efforts, and sharing the story with you. Launching 2021 the waiting list is now open.