Every year, we globally throw out up to 44 million tons of electronic garbage. Only a small fraction of it gets recycled, leaving landfills full of heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, that can bleed into the ground. To help slow the pileup—and inspire other companies to do the same—Urbanears, a Swedish headphones maker, is trying something new. Instead of tossing large stocks of unsold headphones, the company disassembles them and uses the ear cups, headbands, and hinges to create the Re:Plattan headphones. Each pair has brand-new guts, contains about 60 percent repurposed material, and, because the components vary in color, has its own unique look.
After the initial, limited run of 3,000 Re:Plattans, designers will have to wait for a new supply of parts or find an untapped source. While the company plans to experiment with other material streams, it’s also toying with the idea of a true recycling program, in which consumers can donate old headphones to the cause.
Frequency range: 20hz–20khz
Repurposed parts: 60 percent
This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of Popular Science_. See more stories from the magazine here._