Mapping the international trade and traffic of electronic waste

Publication Type: 
Journal Name: 
Volume: 
54
Number: 
2
Page Numbers: 
177-195
Published On: 
2010

In this paper, we map the international trade in electronic waste (e-waste). We quantify the directions and magnitude of this trade at the global scale and examine the utility of the pollution haven hypothesis for explaining the observed trade patterns. Our results demonstrate four key findings: the international trade in e-waste is a more complex story than being one about ‘rich’ countries dumping waste in ‘poor’ countries; the trade in e-waste is highly regionalized, with intra-regional trade accounting for most of the total trade flows; the pollution haven hypothesis is an important, but partial, explanation of observed trade patterns; and there is a need to conceptualize the trade and traffic of e-waste as open ended and contingent processes facilitated by situated practices of wasting and valuing that rely on geographic difference and mobility for the exchanges between the domains of waste and value to occur.