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Reassembling Rubbish: Worlding Electronic Waste

Josh Lepawsky (Associate Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland)

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MIT Press
13 April 2018
Impact of science & technology on society; Waste management
Series: The MIT Press
An examination of the global trade and traffic in discarded electronics that reframes the question of the right thing to do with e-waste.

The prevailing storyline about the problem of electronic waste frames e-waste as generated by consumers in developed countries and dumped on people and places in developing countries. In Reassembling Rubbish, Josh Lepawsky offers a different view. In an innovative analysis of the global trade and traffic in discarded electronics, Lepawsky reframes the question of the right thing to do with e-waste, mapping the complex flows of electronic materials. He counters the assumption that e-waste is a post-consumer problem, pointing out that waste occurs at all stages of electronic materials' existence, and calls attention to the under-researched world of reuse and repair. Lepawsky explains that there are conflicting legal distinctions between electronic waste and non-waste, and examines a legal case that illustrates the consequences. He shows that patterns of trade do not support the dominant narrative of e-waste dumping but rather represent the dynamic ecologies of repair, refurbishment, and materials recovery. He asks how we know waste, how we measure it, and how we construe it, and how this affects our efforts to mitigate it. We might not put so much faith in household recycling if we counted the more massive amounts of pre-consumer electronic waste as official e-waste. Lepawsky charts the minescapes, productionscapes, and clickscapes of electronics, and the uneven discardscapes they produce. Finally, he considers both conventional and unconventional e-waste solutions, including decriminalizing export for reuse, repair, and upgrade; enabling ethical trade in electronics reuse, repair, refurbishment, and recycling; implementing extended producer responsibility; and instituting robust forms of public oversight.
By:   Josh Lepawsky (Associate Professor Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Imprint:   MIT Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 11mm
ISBN:   9780262535335
ISBN 10:   0262535335
Series:   The MIT Press
Pages:   240
Publication Date:   13 April 2018
Recommended Age:   From 18 years
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Josh Lepawsky is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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