In this week’s episode of NothingWasted!, we chat with Melissa Gregg, chief technologist, user experience and sustainability at Intel. Gregg shared her insights on designing for reuse and circularity, how the pandemic helped to accelerate reuse, and more.
Intel prides itself on “raising the bar for ourselves and evolving our corporate responsibility strategy to create a more responsible, inclusive, and sustainable world.” Its goals for 2030 build on the company’s ongoing commitment and “reflect bold ambitions to overcome challenges, enable, and improve the lives of every person on earth with our technology.”
Here’s a glimpse into the discussion:
Waste360: Can you talk a bit about the customer experience work you’re doing at Intel — and how you’re using those critical customer insights to be more sustainable?
Gregg: The thing we do through our user experience research is talk with ordinary users about technology. We go into people’s homes, into their workplaces—where they use technology. And we take from those interviews observations, insights, and recommendations based on what they need. When I was doing research for one of our big laptop innovation programs recently, one of the prominent observations with the interviews we did—particularly in Europe—is that people were really starting to express an interest in more sustainable designs for technology. And they were feeling a little concerned that they couldn’t get access to more sustainable designs on the market at that time. We’ve seen people becoming more aware of their consumption habits, and the effects of those consumption habits—and people having seen examples of more sustainably designed products. We’ve seen a trend over the past few years that the younger generation wants this from PCs as well, so this is the direction our work is taking.
Waste360: How much of your work is centered around reuse?
Gregg: This is my new area of focus because I strongly believe we have to complement the traditional methods of market end-user research that we’ve inherited over the years with a more active focus on designing for reuse. We’d like to bring a design mindset at the beginning of how we think about products so we’re always assuming the device will be reused after the first instance. A “re-user experience.” I think we’ve had a bit of a linear model of making the product, selling it, and disposing it. Instead we need to think about how can we keep this device—this really crucial set of resources—how can we keep that circulating? We really have to try to maximize the full capacity and utility of the device and realize that it’s a collective computing opportunity. It’s not “my” personal experience that this device is destined to fulfill forever; it’s actually: “I get the first opportunity, and I want this to be something that others benefit from, too.” That’s what re-user design experience can give us.
Waste360: At Intel, you guys recently introduced your 2030 RISE Strategy for your corporate responsibility goals for the next decade. Can you talk about that and your role in that?
Gregg: I have the privilege of being on the tech impact steering committee for RISE, which stands for “responsible, inclusive, and sustainable design enabled by our employees.” So the acronym itself is optimistic and hopeful. We want to inspire our colleagues as much as our industry on aiming for these goals. And the thing really exciting from my point of view is the way RISE links together all of these different aspects where Intel can play a role.