Responsible and innovative use of materials and reduction of non-biodegradable waste

This is an engineering challenge that involves the responsible use of materials and innovations that will ensure that the materials can be recycled and reused. The challenge is to develop a product, solution that addresses the resource challenge, or a system to recover and reuse materials.


You might start by considering the questions, what waste streams you are familiar with or can see impacting in your local community, what scientific knowledge could tackle the problem, and how to meet the requirements of easy to use, economical affordable, safe and environmental friendly, etc.


Your solution should be consistent with the theme of World Engineering Day 2022

Build Back Wiser–Engineering the Future.

Examples Include:

Extraction of precious materials from mobile phones
and e-waste.

Development of new materials that are strong and biodegradable.

Reuse of rubber, polyurethane and other polymers that do not biodegrade easily.

Development of materials from natural resources such as fast-growing bamboo and other timbers.

The Challenge addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12

Responsible Use of Resources

Our planet has provided us with an abundance of natural resources. But we have not utilized them responsibly and currently consume far beyond what our planet can provide. We must learn how to use and produce in sustainable ways that will reverse the harm that we have inflicted on the planet.

There is an imperative to manage the transition away from certain waste streams, as a solution which has a positive impact for the environment may actually have a negative impact on vulnerable communities.

If the ‘more-sustainable’ alternative is not also affordable and appropriately-designed, this could limit access to important products for some communities. For example, some single-use plastic products such as menstrual pads and baby nappies are currently often much cheaper per unit than alternatives made of more environmentally-friendly materials.

It is imperative to mitigate impacts on low-income communities by providing economical alternatives which are also good for the planet.

This guideline has been designed to support the development of an engineering solution that demonstrates a considered response to one of the engineering challenges and also how one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are advanced through engineering.