Turning Waste Into Art: How Kazakh Entrepreneur Contributes to Reducing Electronic Waste

ALMATY – Kuanysh Mukhamedzhanov has transformed his hobby into an initiative to combat electronic waste by converting household appliances into modern art and turning old vacuum cleaners and televisions into futuristic figures and robots inspired by popular Hollywood movies. 

Sculptor displays his artworks made from household electronics. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

He has established a robot museum in Talgar, located in the Almaty Region, which attracts individuals passionate about robots, eco-activists, and children. He is also creating art installations made of electronic waste for electronics manufacturers.

“In the past seven years, I’ve recycled around 300 vacuums, hundreds of TVs, and tons of plastic,” Mukhamedzhanov said in an interview for this story. “We live in a consumer society: if a toy breaks – it is thrown away; if a tablet breaks – it is thrown away, if a phone breaks – it is thrown away and a new one is bought. And kids grow up with the mindset that if you buy it, you can just throw it away and get a new one. But when these kids come [to the museum], they see that things can have a new life. And they start trying to do things at home, making new things out of old toys and trying to recycle. These kids are inspired from a young age and start to change. It all starts with the small things.” 

Muhamadzhanov’s favorite sculpture Wall-E with pot lid eyes. Photo credit: The Astana Times.

To turn his dream of creating robots and benefiting society into reality, he had to give up his restaurant business, face questions from his relatives, and study welding techniques and engineering fundamentals. Nevertheless, Mukhamedzhanov is adamant that the effort to convey the idea of waste recycling to people has been worth it. 

“There’s a lot of waste being produced, especially single-use plastics. It’s good that new technologies are emerging, but there is a negative side to it. There’s a lot of household waste being generated. I’m currently in talks with large companies about their responsibility for this waste. LG, Samsung, and other companies create phones, TVs, and cars, which is great, but they have a responsibility to find ways to recycle the waste. If you’re making money from it, you need to take responsibility,” he said. 

In addition to the Terminator, one of Mukhamedzhanov’s favorite sculptures is the robot Wall-E. The character from Pixar’s animated film works on Earth, which has been left by humans due to heavy pollution. During his work, the cleaning robot discovers a space station where the last humans on Earth live, and helps them realize and change their way of life to save the planet. 

According to the sculptor, every small act that protects the environment is an opportunity for big change towards a better future.

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