TechBuddy's work towards a more sustainable future
One of TechBuddy’s main missions is to make the electronics industry more sustainable. Meet Timmy who is one of our heroes working everyday to make it happen, as a part of Project Greenify.
First of all, tell us a bit more about yourself and your role here at TechBuddy?
I am an engineering student at KTH with a passion for sustainable development. My purpose in life is to hand over a planet to the next generation that is greener, cleaner and better than the one that I got. Currently, I am doing my master thesis here at TechBuddy as part of the masters program in Sustainable Technology at KTH. The master thesis is a part of Project Greenify which TechBuddy is running, which aims to develop an eco-label for consumer electronics. The vision is to emphasize consumer power through transparency and information. What that means is that we want to make the production of consumer electronics more transparent for the consumer so that they can make more conscious choices. When TechBuddy presented that project and their reason to me I immediately felt that I wanted to join!
That sounds like equally important and exciting work! How come that you are this passionate about these questions?
I was born and raised in the coastal regional of Hälsingland, which lies in the southern parts of Norrland in Sweden. A beautiful landscape with pine and spruce forests, mountains, eskers and a large archipelago. It was in this place my passion for environment started to grow. During my years at KTH, I started to realize how our welfare is dependent on the environment, like a building on its foundation, and that it’s crucial that we protect our planet and the people on it if we want to have the welfare we have today. This insight is what fuels my passion for sustainable development and my purpose in life.
So, Project Greenify. For those who don’t know about it, can you tell a bit more what the projects aims to?
It is a project run by TechBuddy that has the purpose to develop a filter for the customer, to help them make more conscious choices of electronic products, by developing an eco-label for producers of consumer electronics. We have for the past four months been developing this eco-label, which is a method for evaluation the sustainability performance of consumer electronics producers. By sustainability performance, we mean how well the producers perform environmentally, socially and financially. We have identified the main environmental and social impacts from several life cycle assessment studies on different types of consumer electronic products. In this way, we get a comprehensive picture of the impacts that consumer electronics have during its lifetime, from the extraction of the resources, the manufacturing of the parts, the assembling of the final products, the use of the product and the discardment of it. From those impacts, environmental and social criterias have been identified, that will be used to measure the performance of a producers electronics.
Why is the project so important?
The burning question is: how can we still produce things that help people in their daily lives and gives them joy, but without destroying our planet and having a part of the worlds population being slaves for another part? Project Greenify is all about making the equation add up, and that is why it is so important. We have this limited green oasis called Earth that lies in the vast and cold space, and there is no other place to go. That means we need to take care of the home we got. This means that we need to change how we consume and produce products, and in a sense how our economy works, so we don’t harm other humans and our planet. This is one step on the way towards that vision, and we don’t have any time to waste to get there.
Both food & clothing has an eco label today and is an important factor for many in the purchase situation, what do you think is the reason we don’t see the same development in the electronics industry?
I think the eco labels started with food because it is very connected to our health since we put the product inside our bodies. It is also a rather simple supply chain to understand. I mean, everyone can grow food at home, which makes it easier for consumers to make informed choices. Clothes has similar properties, it is also connected to our health since we have them in contact with our bodies during the whole day. Many of the eco-labels for clothes focuses on the chemicals used and similar. The supply chain is also rather easy, and the production of clothes is also something people can relate to.
Electronics on the other hand, does not have the same clear connection to our health - we don’t eat it as food or wear it as clothes. It is also a very complex supply chain that is hard to grasp and is far away from our daily lives. I believe that this is one of the main reasons why we don’t see the same development in the electronics industry as we’ve done in the fashion and food industry.
Project Greenify is a big project that, of course, will take som time. But meanwhile, how should I think as an individual to influence as much as I can?
The most important thing that consumers can do is to vote with their wallet, buy high quality products that will last long and can be repaired so you can use it for a long time. As a consequence of this, you should avoid buying products from Chinese shopping sites such as Wish. Nothing is cheap, someone is always paying the price and in those cases it is the planet and the people producing these products. Consumers can also raise awareness by talking about these issues with friends and family. Talk about the problems of the products of electronics, and question the wear and tear way we consume and use electronic products.
It will be so exciting to follow this project. What’s the next step in the project?
The immediate next step is to start evaluate some producers and to fine tune the evaluation method further by improving the criteria and the math under the hood. Moreover, the results from the review of life cycle assessments of consumer electronics should be communicated to the consumer, to spread awareness regarding these issues. In the long run we aim to set up a foundation that will spread awareness about sustainability, electronics and evaluate producers with the eco-label we've been developing.
TechBuddy's mission and vision is to make consumer electronics more sustainable. This by creating transparency in the industry and being there for the consumer when faced with these issues buying new products. We want to make it easily for all to make informed choices based on these aspects. Project Greenify is our heart project that underlies why TechBuddy was created about 2 years ago.