“Recommerce” retailer musicMagpie has enlisted the help of the artist Joe Rush to create a giant Mount Rushmore-style sculpture of the G7 leaders’ heads, made entirely of discarded electronics, on a beach near to Carbis Bay where the G7 Summit is being held.
The sculpture, named Mount Recyclemore, aims to highlight the growing threat of e-waste on the planet as leaders of the world’s most advanced economies prepare to discuss how to tackle climate change and build a greener future.
Depicting world leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, American President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the e-waste sculpture has been created by musicMagpie and the artist and founder of the Mutoid Waste Company, Joe Rush, alongside sculptor Alex Wreckage. (We're guessing that those aren't their real names!)
The campaign was conceived by Fanclub PR who worked alongside Sketch Events to deliver the project.
The installation has been erected following research showing that the G7 nations alone produce almost 15.9 million tonnes of e-waste a year, with the US (6.9m), Japan (2.6m), Germany (1.6m) and UK (1.6m) being the worst offenders. In fact, in 2019 the UK produced 23.9kg per capita annually - that’s the second highest waste electrical and electronic equipment per capita in the world.
According to the UN, the current 53 million tonnes of e-waste generated annually worldwide will more than double by 2050, making it the fastest growing waste stream in the world.
Despite this growing environmental issue, musicMagpie’s own research has found that an alarming four in five (79%) Brits do not know what e-waste is. When given the definition of e-waste, nearly a third (31%) didn’t believe it damaged the environment or were unsure, while 45% weren’t aware it impacted climate change.
Steve Oliver, founder and CEO at musicMagpie, said: “E-waste is a growing problem worldwide and its impact on the environment is significant. If sent to landfills, e-waste can leak harmful chemicals into the soil and water or if incinerated, fumes release chemicals into the air, contributing to global warming. Not only this, but everything from our phones to our laptops rely heavily on precious materials to operate, which are not only limited resources, but also directly impact climate change when being extracted from the earth”.
Lucy Smith: How did you come up with the idea? Was it an idea that developed or just one of those eureka moments?
Paul Lucas: It was one of those moments where something instantly made sense. musicMagpie is a key player in recommerce and it is passionate about educating consumers around the growing threat of e-waste. With Cornwall set to stage the G7 Climate Summit, the time was right to make a statement. My thought pattern essentially went G7, leaders, heads of state, at a summit, Mount Rushmore, the E7, leaders ‘carved’ on a Cornish hillside out of e-waste and so Mount Recyclemore was born.
LS: What was the process to actually build the statues? How long did it take?
PL: Start to finish the planning and build took around six weeks from when the idea was born. We worked alongside Sketch Events and the Mutoid Waste Company to realise Mount Recyclemore. Fifteen artists, led by the excellent Joe Rush and Alex Wreckage, used 20,000 individual pieces of e-waste from phones, tablets and old game consoles, through to vacuum cleaners and Flymo's to create it. Everything in the sculpture will be sustainably recycled.
LS: Was it difficult to get permission/sign off from the local authority/the G7?
PL: The sculpture is placed on private land on top of sand dunes in Sandy Acres looking directly across to Carbis Bay. Was it difficult? The excellent Sketch Events who we partnered with on the logistics made everything easy. I’d highly recommend them!
Unflattering comparisons between our PM and a pile of old rubbish aren’t new but a giant sculpture of Boris, alongside his G7 summit peers made entirely from rubbish is.
Created to highlight the terrifying volume of yearly e-waste, Mount Recyclemore has all the ingredients of a successful stunt.
Simple, topical, visual, linked to a famous landmark with a shocking stat (53 million tonnes of waste produced each year) behind it, consumer research stats for context and a pun-tastic name.
What I love is unlike the ephemeral nature of many stunts this one has longevity with the brand behind it—musicMagpie—donating funds to WasteAid for every piece of consumer tech customers trade in with them throughout June.
A far from rubbish idea.