The story of the WEEE Man

Learn more about this huge sculpture.

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At seven metres high, his grimacing head towered over the Eden Project outdoor gardens. Mobile phones, mp3 players, lawn mowers and the like madee up his bones and sinews; his teeth were computer mice; his ears are satellite dishes; and his brain was built from computer parts.

Why build a man of WEEE?

The RSA and Canon Europe commissioned the sculpture to raise awareness of how much electrical waste we get through in the UK.

His creator, contemporary artist Paul Bonomini says: “I designed him to look like he’s  dragging himself out of landfill, coming back from the dead. He’s there to remind us of this monster that we’re creating when we dump these goods rather than recycle them.”

Since the sculpture was installed at Eden in 2005, the UK Government has introduced legislation that makes producers responsible for appliances at the end of their lives – and encourages them to design products which last longer.

So far, the regulation has seen over 850,000 tonnes of WEEE collected for refurbishment and recycling.

What was the sculpture made of?

What you could see in the WEEE Man was more or less what one household gets through in a lifetime. We measured it by weight, looked at which items we could get hold of, then added a bit of artistic license. Artist Paul Bonomini put the sculpture together using all sorts of items. Click on the image below to find out...


The future of our sculpture

WEEEMan will take up a new prominent position as WEEEMan2.  No longer wanting to become landfill he will travel out of the pit and onto the rim to the ‘From the Earth’ mining area to promote the story of mining from waste; the age of the circular economy driven by the new WEEE directive. 

He will show what is in our WEEE, where we get it from, and why it is important that we value and recycle it properly. He will take us through the cycle, linking the stories of how the minerals and metals in our electronic and electrical products are mined, the impact, their use, what happens to them at the end of their life, what could happen, and new ways of addressing the challenges.   

With him he will bring some new fascinating stories and hope for the future. For example, there are now more mobile phones on the planet than there are people. We will take a new look at the ubiquitous mobile phone, and in particular the gold contained within it. A visual element of the exhibit will aim to provide a surprising and thought-provoking juxtaposition; creating something precious and beautiful from the metals contained within the waste electronics that we all-too-readily throw away.

All we need to do now is to raise the funds.

Find out more on the WEEE Man website