London — When the G7 leaders arrive in southern England later this week, they'll be greeted by a multi-story sculpture of their own heads, made of electronic trash. The "Mount Recyclemore" sculpture by artist Joe Rush is intended to demonstrate the harm caused by the huge amount of e-waste festering around the world, and the need for it to be more easily recyclable.
Rush is the founder of a performing arts collective called The Mutoid Waste Company, and he's known for turning other peoples' garbage into his artwork. He's collaborated previously with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and the Rolling Stones.
Rush told CBS News' partner network BBC that he hopes the subjects of his latest work, which he created with fellow artist Alex Wreckage, will take note of its message "when they fly over" on their way to the resort in Cornwall where the G7 is taking place.
The sculpture depicts U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joe Biden, and is positioned across the water from the Carbis Bay Hotel, which is hosting the summit.
The electronic waste "needs to be repairable or made to last longer because the stuff is going into landfill," he told the BBC.
A United Nations report found that 59 million tons of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2019, and only 17.4% of it was recycled. This waste can include toxic and hazardous substances such as mercury and chlorofluorocarbons, which pose a severe risk to human health and the environment if handled incorrectly.
"We have this looking at [the G7 leaders] and hopefully we're going to prick their conscience and make them realize they're all together in this waste business," Rush told the BBC. "They key message is 'talk to each other' and let's sort this mess out."
The organization that commissioned the sculpture, "musicMagpie" has backed a new program by the charity "WasteAid" that aims to help communities, particularly in developing nations, more safely deal with e-waste.