Graham Sustainability Institute

Changing the Global E-waste Cycle

During this all-day public event on April 24, 2018, experts in sustainability, population health, policy, and design processes lead discussions on the complex issues surrounding global production and transportation of electronic waste and its impact on vulnerable communities around the world.

Visit the "Presentations and Video" page for conference highlights.
Learn more on the project webpage.

A Global and Growing Threat

Electronic waste (e-waste) is a global and growing threat to human and ecosystem health. Due to the high turnover rate of electronics, e-waste is increasing exponentially.

Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) bear a disproportionate burden of the impacts of e-waste, as higher-income countries often export waste to be recycled or disposed of in these less expensive settings. While this creates much-needed employment opportunities in LMICs, the informal recycling and disposal methods recover only a fraction of potentially recyclable materials. Additionally, e-waste workers and communities are exposed to a myriad of hazardous agents and conditions during this recycling process.

A number of corporations, researchers, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are currently evaluating solutions to reducing e-waste generation and increasing safe recycling processes. This project was aimed at engaging these experts and stakeholders in discussions that will lead to community-led, research-based solutions that address the substantial existing public health hazards associated with e-waste.

Research Findings to Inform Solutions

Our morning session focussed on specific research findings from recycling communities in Ghana, Thailand, and Chile. This research provided the groundwork for an afternoon session that highlighted broader issues and ramifications of e-waste recycling. Our experts followed their presentations with panel discussions that  included questions and comments from audience members. See the schedule for more details.

This event was part of an on-going research project, and the ideas gleaned from the panels will provide the foundation for subsequent meetings of experts and stakeholders to develop recommendations and next-steps for addressing this multifaceted issue.  

Learn more about our partners and sponsors.