Creative Works OOH Environmental Campaigns

Dell tackles e-waste with giant QR code installation at SXSW


By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

March 11, 2024 | 6 min read

The installation, made up of old computer parts, alerts conference attendees about the global e-waste crisis.

e-waste outdoor installation

The installation directs passersby to a website that helps them responsibly recycle their old tech / Credit: Dell Technologies

As the global surge in electronic consumption continues, so, too, does the rise in electronic waste (e-waste).

According to Dell Technologies, 53.6m tons of electronics become e-waste every year. That’s 16 pounds for every single person on the planet every single year, making it the fastest-growing domestic waste stream. Meanwhile, just 17.4% of e-waste around the world gets recycled.

Dell, the consumer electronics giant, has taken a pioneering step to raise awareness about this critical environmental challenge and promote recycling through an innovative outdoor campaign debuting at the 28th annual SXSW, a tech conference and music festival that takes place in Austin, Texas, this month.

The campaign serves a dual purpose: to draw attention to the alarming e-waste crisis and encourage the responsible recycling of old technology.

The first-of-its-kind installation, created with the ad agency VML New York, debuts before Global Recycling Day on March 18 and sits at the corner of San Jacinto and 3rd Street (207 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin) – just a few blocks away from Dell’s SXSW event venue at the Riley Building.

The piece is designed to make recycling old tech more accessible and convenient for SXSW attendees. Various pieces of “e-waste,” including discarded keyboards and monitors, become a giant QR code from a few feet away. A scan of a smartphone takes individuals to, where they can access information on responsibly recycling old technology and download a pre-paid shipping label to facilitate the recycling process.

e waste installation up close

Niraj Zaveri and Justin Ebert, executive creative directors at VML New York, commented on the campaign: “All that old technology you’re not using doesn’t mean it can’t still be useful. When you e-cycle your old stuff, Dell can use the parts to turn it into new, better things. The QR code installation is meant to make that easier for everyone.

Beyond the SXSW event, Dell says it plans to extend the impact of the initiative by airing “recycled” radio spots, which are repurposed from previous ad campaigns.

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Creative Works OOH Environmental Campaigns

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