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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

From Electronic Waste in China to Sustainable Product Designs and Innovations

E-waste refers to the waste consisting of obsolete electronic and electrical equipment. E-waste can be extremely persistent in natural environment and contains hazardous ingredients. Strict regulations have been established in many countries to protect the environment and human health from toxic e-waste disposals. Besides the large quantities generated annually, e-waste brings other worrying issues. Developed economies found a cheap escape of their e-waste problem: exporting e-waste to the developing world. China is biggest destination of e-waste exports, where over 70% of global e-waste ends up every year. Solving e-waste problem under the pressure from environment, economy and society is a challenging task, especially for China. This paper explores the general issues associated with e-waste problem, following by a detailed case study in China. Sustainable electronic products design is proposed in this paper as an effective long-term strategy against e-waste generation. This proactive approach aims to reduce the amount of e-waste by extending the electronic life and revolutionizing the way how computing service is delivered. An evaluation framework for sustainable electronic product design has been proposed. Two designs, wireless network computing (WNC) and soft computer system (SCS), have been presented in this paper as illustrations of the concept.

Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.