The e-waste conundrum: Balancing evidence from the North and on-the-ground developing countries’ realities for improved management
E-waste is currently the fastest-growing waste stream, posing major global management challenges. One of the unintended outcomes of this growth in the developing world is the increasing presence of informal e-waste recyclers, providing livelihood opportunities, albeit under elevated health-threatening risks and limited protection. Based on a detailed assessment of the context in Ghana, the authors propose a disposal model involving all stakeholders in the development of new state policies for e-waste recycling. Based on the principle of participatory development, the authors posit that the informal sector concentrates on the collection, disassembly and segregation, while the formal sector manages the upstream state-of-the-art processing requiring more capital and technology investment, and expertise. Tackling e-waste management at the two extremes will build a broader consensus for a greener agenda and mitigate the potential environmental pollution embedded in current practices. Although the authors’ model is proposed with reference to the Ghanaian context, it stands a better chance of success and applicability to other developing countries than models that are developed based on developed world experiences.
Keywords: E-waste recycling; formal-informal interface; livelihood; waste management; Accra
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