Entrepreneurial skills in action! Postgrad Students Innovate Solutions to E-Waste Disposal Challenge set by BT Group in Sustainability Hackathon

A groups of students brainstorming ideas and one person writing on a white board.

In a dynamic display of innovation and teamwork, postgraduate students from Loughborough University London participated in a sustainability hackathon on Friday, September 29, 2023. This event, which was organized in partnership with BT Group, brought together 11 teams comprising a total of 77 enthusiastic attendees.

The central challenge of the hackathon posed by BT group was "how BT Group could further improve processes and engagement for the disposal of electronic waste on one of its largest sites”. " – e-Waste is a critical issue in today's world where electronic waste continues to pose significant environmental challenges. The participating teams embarked on a creative journey to propose novel solutions, resulting in a wide range of innovative ideas.

The diversity of ideas presented during the hackathon was remarkable, reflecting the students' commitment to addressing real-world sustainability problems. Some teams proposed implementing tagging and rewards systems to incentivize responsible e-waste disposal, while others explored the concept of repurposing old electronic components into unique souvenirs. A common theme across nearly all the teams was embedding a reward mechanism that sustained the desired behaviours towards waste. And most were not monetary, in fact, getting people to just feel good doing the right thing and seeing waste in a different light through art!

One striking aspect of the hackathon was the direct involvement of BT Group, the event's partner. Representatives from the telecommunications giant were present throughout the day, providing valuable insights and guidance to the participating teams. This engagement not only offered students a unique opportunity to interact with industry professionals but also provided a real-world context for their solutions.

The enthusiasm and energy of the participants were palpable, as evidenced by their feedback. One student stated, "I really enjoyed problem-solving a real-life issue with the organization itself in the room with us."Another participant expressed, "The hackathon is an exciting event for sharing opinions and communication. It's more than amazing!" Many students highlighted the positive impact of the event on their teamwork skills, with one commenting, "It was great, and I got an opportunity to work with fellow students. It really helped me with my team working skills."

According to the BT Team, “we were particularly impressed by the team’s proposal to bring users face to face with their waste through waste-art on the site, triggering a pause for thought and reflection on attitudes towards waste and unnecessary consumption”.

The winning team generated solutions to waste management through an Integrated/Centralized system, enhancing awareness and accountability. Their solution featured on-site collection points and innovative mobile robots, marking a breakthrough in waste management efficiency.

This event is just one small part of the Future Space offer here at Loughborough University London and those learning Entrepreneurial skills or starting businesses can utilise the support of the Loughborough Enterprise Network.

If you are a student looking to get involved in a hack, sign up to our next one.

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