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Individual Paper: Technology, Toxic Trade and E-waste

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As a toxic waste stream, E-waste is a major concern confronted by almost all countries across the globe today, causing serious intimidation to human health and the environment. It signifies discarded appliances that utilize electricity for functioning. With constant technological innovations, attractive consumer designs, premature and planned obsolescence, higher disposal income in the society, intelligent marketing strategies and compatibility issues, the quantity of E-waste has the potential for unabated growth in the near future. Here my concern about a certain degree of ‘degrowth’ strategy lies. Has it become imperative in today’s world to somehow ‘de-grow’ the ever-increasing quantum of electronics and ICT equipments with decreasing life-span in order to avert technological waste in the form of E-waste? Is it the time to somehow restrict the growth of or market of electronics and ICT equipments, at least to some possible extent? What if this growth persists or increases exponentially in the next couple of years as it has happened in the last one or two decades? Will the human society be able to address the simultaneous exponential growth of E-waste? Further, developing countries like India are burdened with the increasing volume of E-waste generated both domestically and imported illegally. The country has been one of the major destinations of E-waste from OECD countries with an estimated 50 K tonnes of E-waste imported every year. Though India is a signatory of the ‘Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal’ under which E-waste is also a component, it fails to stop the illegal imports to its territory and developed countries often find the loopholes (for instance, ‘donation’) in the convention to send their obsolete electronics into India. This fuels the growth of informal recycling units in the country where a large number of women and children are involved in recycling activities without any health and safety measures. Here my question is: how the world will address the issues concerning ‘toxic trade’? Is certain degree of ‘degrowth’ in the electronics and ICT Industry is the only option?


Day: 2018-08-23
Start time: 11:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Theater)
Track: Technology in a Degrowth Society



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