Managing E-Waste in Developed and Developing Countries

  • Suthipong SthiannopkaoEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 23)


Electronic goods contain a range of toxic materials requiring special end-of-life handling. This chapter surveys policies adopted by countries across the spectrum of development to deal with waste from electronics and also practices that now in fact exist for handling this hazardous waste. Developed countries have conventions, directives, and laws to regulate the disposal of such e-waste, most based on the extended producer responsibility concept. Manufacturers take back items collected by retailers and local governments for safe destruction or recovery of materials. Compliance, however, is difficult to assure, and frequently runs against economic incentives.

The expense of proper disposal leads to the shipment of large amounts of e-waste to China, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and other developing countries. Shipment is often through middlemen, and under tariff classifications that make quantities difficult to assess. There, despite the intents of national regulations and hazardous waste laws, most e-waste is treated as general refuse, or crudely processed, perhaps by burning or acid baths, to recover only a few materials of value. Harm to the environment, workers, and area residents is inevitable, often from release of dioxins, furans, and heavy metals.

The faster growth of e-waste in the developing than in the developed world presages continued expansion of an informal processing sector that, while on its own terms is inexpensive and efficient, remains hazard-ridden.


E-waste Extended producer responsibility Informal waste processing Recycling Take-back 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Engineering, College of EngineeringDong-A UniversityBusanRepublic of Korea

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