Tackling the Electronic Waste Challenge in Emerging Economies
Electronic waste (E-waste) or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world today. It is a complex stream of waste as it contains both hazardous chemicals and valuable/precious metal components. A major challenge for the research community, therefore, is to find effective (policy) solutions for addressing the environmental and health problems caused by E-waste management in low and mid-income countries while, at the same time, enhancing the recovery of precious metals to reuse these resources. During my Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship, I will analyse why emerging economies adopt E-waste policies that seem inadequate and ineffective in their local contexts and identify alternative approaches. In a first step, I will develop a novel analytical framework to analyse the effectiveness of E-waste policies in emerging economies and, as a second step, I will seek to explain the degree of effectiveness of E-waste policies in India and South Africa. The research aims to make conceptual, empirical and policy-relevant contributions: I strive to contribute to the academic literature by developing a novel analytical framework that helps evaluate E-waste policies in non-Western countries. Current literature on E-waste is largely based on assumptions derived from Western policies, polities and societies. By analysing the cases of India and South Africa, my research will focus on two countries whose E-waste policy has hardly been analysed. The findings of the project will provide insights that both the EU and non-European policymakers can use in their decision- making. The EU has a keen interest in supporting non-EU countries tackle their E-waste challenges through effective policies, especially since parts of the E-waste that causes problems in those countries originates from the EU and is a direct result of European consumption. I will contribute to the understanding of how such EU support could be designed.