The project AWARE creates new types of education material designed to raise awareness among young people of electronic waste as a resource for valuable materials, and to involve them in collection campaigns in schools. The aim is to develop education material for schoolteachers, and awareness concepts for multiplication in Europe benefiting previous and ongoing studies and KCAs. Also, university students will be trained to act as envoys in schools.

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In Europe, Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) is one of the fastest growing waste streams with high metal and impurity concentrations.Critical raw materials (CRMs) – defined in Europe as materials important to European economy but at the same time associated with supply risks – are used extensively in electronics. The concentrations of most CRMs in ores is limited and the environmental footprint of their use is quite high. Today, the biggest bottleneck for the efficient recycling of small household devices and telecommunications equipment is that a large share of devices is stored in homes and ends up in unknown destinations, instead of dedicated recycling schemes. As a consequence, valuable raw materials are lost.

The focus of the project will be on education and the involvement of school children, both to raise the awareness of end-of-life electronics as a resource, and through them to bring the message into families and the society as whole. The aim of the project is to increase the share of waste ending up in official take-back systems instead of loosing the resource to waste disposal or incineration plants and collection outside official take-back systems.

The project will create new types of education materials co-designed with young people to reach their peers and to involve young people in planning collection campaigns for end-of-life electronics. The idea is to engage schoolteachers to be involved in new learning topics, and to distribute information on the circular economy of end-of-life electronics in primary, secondary schools and also higher education (in Finland) in novel, interesting forms (e.g. games and videos or phenomenon based learning). The main target group for the project is school children with open minds for action and an interest in protecting the environment. Besides the schoolteachers, university students will also be trained to act as envoys in schools. The project will provide the recycling companies, associations and municipalities with new ideas from the pupils for the arrangement of campaigns in schools or in society, based on feedback from schoolchildren.