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Free Content E-Waste: A Story of Trashing, Trading, and Valuable Resources

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Electronic waste, or e-waste, is considered the most rapidly growing waste category, as electrical and electronic appliances continue to be essential tools of global information and communication societies. Recent literature on e-waste broaches the issue of e-waste both as hazardous waste and as so-called urban mines. End-of-life management of e-waste is more challenging than that of other waste due to the wide range of products that qualify as e-waste, their complex material composition, and their low collection and recycling rates. Collection of e-waste from consumers is difficult especially with regard to small appliances as these tend to be disposed of in solid waste containers or are stored by consu mers. The article also uncovers complex aspects within the discussion on international trade of e-waste: Developing countries are frequently referred to as the “e-waste dumpsites” of industrialized countries; on the other hand, inexpensive access to information and communication technologies is considered an important driver for development.

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Keywords: COLLECTION RATES; ELECTRONIC WASTE; GLOBAL E-WASTE TRADE; RECYCLING; TECHNOLOGY METALS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

    Environmental problems cannot be solved by one academic discipline. The complex natures of these problems require cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. Since 1991, GAIA has offered a well-balanced and practice-oriented forum for transdisciplinary research. GAIA offers first-hand information on state of the art environmental research and on current solutions to environmental problems. Well-known editors, advisors, and authors work to ensure the high quality of the contributions found in GAIA and a unique transdisciplinary dialogue – in a comprehensible style.

    GAIA is an ISI-journal, listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index and in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    All contributions undergo a double-blind peer review.

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