Are you researching, writing a term paper, or studying electronics recycling and / or international trade in so-called “E-Waste” or “WEEE”? Here is a list of important links to actual studies of exports of used electronics devices from developed countries to buyers in emerging markets.
2015: Here are 5 very recent reports, based on a month investigation of the scrapyard “Agbogbloshie” (aka “Old Fadama”) in Ghana. WR3A brought journalists to meet both the “Tech Sector” importers and the “scrap men” who collect exhausted equipment from around the city of Accra (about 3M residents).
- “Representations of E-waste Globally Matter”
- “Criminal Negligence?”
- “Anatomy of a Myth: the World’s Biggest E-Waste Dump Isn’t”
- “E-waste Republic”
- “An Infamous E-waste Slum Needed Us. It Got Razed Instead“
Here are some of our own photos, redistributed by National Geographic’s website.
The result, called “ewastegate” by some members, shows that Agbogbloshie was NOT “the largest” e-waste dumpsite on earth. It was not even remotely close. It was an automobile scrap yard. The number of foreign “sea containers” per year dumped there is zero. Yet BBC, PBS, and other “press” about the site was introduced as “common knowledge” during the trial of African TV repair companies importing to Ghana.
And not all the news is “new”. The exaggeration and hyperbole about E-waste export has been disproven for years.
- Basel Convention Reports (not “Basel action network” — this is the real international organization). See actual statistics from hundreds of sea container inventories in Ghana and Nigeria, showing 85%-90% reuse. Learn how most material in African dumps was used in Africa for decades, “e-waste” generated by Africans, not recently imported from EU and USA.
- “Product or Waste? Importation and End-of-Life Processing of Computers in Peru” documents 87% of imports are reused and repaired. “The most comprehensive study to date of computer reuse in a developing country, recently published in ES&T, suggests that reuse may be more pervasive than previously believed.”
- “Preliminary Study on the Imported Second Hand Computers in Kenya” by Richard Kiaka and Rachel Kamande (2007) “with guidance from Puckett James, Basel Action Network”. This 2007 study bemoans the disposal practices of items that are imported into Kenya but are not reused or repaired — a number the authors estimate at 10-20% of imports.
- MIT 2012, “Characterizing Transboundary Flows of Used Electronics: Summary Report” (Miller, Duan, Gregory, Kirchain). WR3A provided shipping data and destinations for this study.
- IDC 2011, “Survey: Inside the U.S. Electronics Recycling Industry” by David Daoud documents processing capacity for “non-reuse” e-waste in the USA to exceed the amount of used electronics generated or disposed, placing 35,296 Americans in full-time employment performing this work. The Report claims that 70% of this material (by weight) can be tracked as scrap sales (steel, aluminum, plastic, copper, etc.), 10% resold as fully functional equipment, and 18% sold for repair and refurbishment.
- Motherboard: Tech by Vice 2011, “Why We Should Ship Our Electronic ‘Waste’ to China and Africa” by Robin Ingenthron
- Environmental Health Perspectives 2006, “Unfair Trade e-Waste in Africa” by Charles Schmidt
- Canadian Geographer 2009, “Mapping International Flows of Electronic Waste” by John Lepawsky and Chris McNabb
- Basel Action Network 2011, “A Place Called Away” by Jim Puckett
Researching policy on where electronics come from (mining) or go to (reuse, recycling, or disposal)? These organizations have valuable perspective on the sustainability of the life cycle of products our society consumes.
- Northeast Resource Recovery Association
- Northeast Recycling Council
- Good Point Ideas Blog (Ingenthron, founder of FTR)
- Basel Action Network (BAN.org)
- Product Stewardship Institute
- US Geological Survey
Five Important links to Groups Discussing repair, reuse, recycling and Fair Trade exports