e-Cycle: The Making and Discarding of Electronics

A mobile exhibit interactive about the life cycle of electronics seen through the lens of labor, materials and waste. E-Cycle: the Making & Discarding of Electronics visualizes the complex flow of electronic materials in order to reveal the efforts and conflicts involved in the manufacturing and disposing of digital devices.

Emily Lin



Electronics require an inordinate amount of material and labor to manufacture. From the mining sites to the clean room, there are thousands of hands, chemicals, and minerals that make a technological product possible. In the process of creating high technology there are significant amounts of waste generated that give rise to health and environmental issues. Waste and wasting happens throughout the manufacturing and supply chain, not just at the point of disposal. In addition, the infrastructure for discarding an electronic item consists of a multitude of processes and machinery. Few of our current disposal methods, including recycling, are optimal – our options take for granted the high labor, environmental, energy and health impacts required to create the technological products we've come to rely on.

The purpose of this project is not to condemn high technology, but rather to show the complicated movement of electronic materials and to empower others to imagine alternatives to this current cycle.

IMA/ITP New York
Thesis Part 2: Production
thesis, life-cycle of electronics