Although typically associated with beaches and playgrounds, sand is a resource essential to the continued functioning of our technology-driven society. Sand makes our electronic devices work, our homes light and warm, our communication faster and our energy consumption more sustainable. It is integral to the production of silicon microchips, fiberoptic cables, insulation and solar cells. Moreover, sand is the primary ingredient in glass, which is used in consumer electronic products such as fridges, microwaves and computers.
Despite great efforts to extract, transport, refine and process sand into complex electronic components, little is done to recycle these components when electronic goods reach the end of their lives. They simply land in the dump. Glass has material properties excellent for recycling, but EU directives on effectively processing glass from electronic waste (E-waste) do not currently exist. Sand is a finite resource, and as the volume of E-waste is increasing rapidly worldwide, we need strategies and solutions.
Based on a volume of existing material research by Studio Plastique, Common Sands – Forite evolved as a collaborative research project between Studio Plastique and Snøhetta, with the aim of exploring the potential applications of recycled E-waste glass. Through several prototypes and variations, a process for recycling E-waste glass components was developed, leading to the development of an application integrating and celebrating its variable material quality: glass tiles.
Read more about the project here.