Toward Active Community Environmental Policing: Potentials and Limits of a Catalytic Model

  • John-Michael DavisEmail author
  • Yaakov Garb


This paper offers a field tested community environmental policing model to address the pressing environmental management challenges of reducing e-waste burning in informal e-waste hubs, and enforcement against informal polluting industries more broadly. This is based on our intervention to reduce e-waste burning in a substantial informal e-waste hub in the West Bank, Palestine, a 45 km2 region in which an estimated 5–10 metric tonnes of cables are burnt daily, causing serious environmental and public health consequences. In analogous e-waste hubs in the global South, environmental management solutions have focused on economically attractive alternatives to replace cable burning or policies that integrate informal recyclers with formal e-waste management systems—achieving little success. Our paper describes a two-pronged intervention in Palestine’s e-waste hub, which reduced e-waste burning by 80% through a combination of economically competitive cable grinding services and an “active” community environmental policing initiative that lowered barriers to and successfully advocated for governmental policing of e-waste burning. Our discussion of this intervention addresses the community environmental policing literature, which has documented few successes stories of real improvements to the enforcement of environmental violations. We argue that existing strategies have relied on “passive” approaches comprised of monitoring and reporting environmental violations to advocate for change. Our strategy offers a template to improve outcomes through a more “active” approach, moving from monitoring environmental violations through understanding the rationale and dynamics of violators, identifying environmental policing barriers, and implementing a feasible and persuasive strategy to overcome them.


E-waste Community environmental policing Palestine Informal Environmental governance Citizen science 



This research benefited from the financial support of the Swedish Consulate and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Grant #767-2014-2701 and 756-2017-0552. We are grateful to the many local inhabitants, the alert and response team staff, and the many community members and stakeholders who supported the vision and efforts described here.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Worcester Polytechnic InstituteThe Global SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Anthropology & Department of Geography and Environmental DevelopmentBen Gurion University of the NegevBeershevaIsrael

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