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Recycling update

In September last year we announced the start of our collaborative PhD with the University of Edinburgh on solar waste, repair and recycling. The study is funded by the Economic & Social Research Council and will explore how we can make our work even more sustainable.

The PhD is focussing on developing waste solutions for the off-grid lighting sector. With 1.5 million lights sold already and potentially hundreds of millions more over the forthcoming years, it is essential we work on a plan to dispose of the lights in a cost effective and environmentally sound manner now, rather than once they reach the end of their life-span in three-five years’ time.

Declan Murray was selected to conduct the PhD and has spent his first six months reviewing existing academic literature around electronic waste, the value of rubbish, and the social role of technology in people’s lives.

Declan has visited Kenya, where the study is likely to focus, to understand the current situation and chat with other players already working on the subject.

Declan says, “I can’t wait to refine my research questions and get out into the field. I am lucky that SolarAid are committed to this research and that the wider solar sector is anticipating the results as much as I am”. 

 He added: “I think of myself as a solar binman. The solar products that organisations like SunnyMoney distribute in Africa bring increasingly recognised benefits to users, communities, and the planet. However, the waste generated when these products stop working could undermine environmental benefits by adding to growing rubbish dumps in developing countries. In recognition of this threat SolarAid and the University of Edinburgh commissioned a three year project to examine the issue. My PhD aims to offer realistic solutions for disposal, recycling, and repair in the off-grid lighting sector. That way we can make sure solar stays green long after the lights go out.”

Good luck with the research Declan. We’re very much looking forward to your insights.

For further updates on the study you can:

  • Follow Declan on Twitter – @declanmurray
  • Follow our Director of Research & Impact Kat Harrison on Twitter – @Sunrise_Kat
  • Check our website