Week 3: An Ideal Solution pt. 1

Tejasvi S -

Hello everyone! This blog we will be discussing the circular economy: an ideal, yet unacheivable solution to e-waste management. This blog will focus on the first 2 parts of the circular economy with the last two parts being discussed in the following blog.

A circular economy is an ideal, cyclic system where all the e-waste produced is effectively and completely recycled and regenerated with no environmental harm. This process, in conversation with e-waste includes the manufacturing and production of the electronics to the consumer to the recycling process and back to the reproduction of new electronics. 

  1. The production of e-waste: The start of this cyclic economy is with the production of electronic devices. According to Fehm (2011) and Smith (2015), placing the responsibility of e-waste on the manufacturers of these technologies will help reduce the negative impacts of e-waste. This concept is known as the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). This responsibility can come in many ways. First, the producing companies will be forced to be in charge of recollecting and recycling the electronics. This will force the companies to redesign their electronics to potentially last longer. However, this will become a burden on the consumers as a more long-lasting technological design will be more expensive, and since the companies are responsible for the recycling as well, they will charge the consumers more to ensure they make their profit. 
  2. Consumer Use: The next step in the cycle is the consumer use, how they use it, and how long the electronics last. Consumer behavior is a major factor in determining the amount of e-waste produced.  A survey conducted by Islam et al. (2023) determined consumer behavior and awareness among university students in Sydney, Australia. This study tested the demographics in relation to how aware they are of the concert of e-waste, the policies surrounding e-waste, recycling process, environmental effects, etc.  A similar survey was conducted in Bangladesh by Annano et al. (2021)  testing the same aspects. The major differences in the studies were the levels of e-waste participation and the awareness; the difference is attributed to the fact that Bangladesh is a less developed country than Australia. Additionally, both the papers claim that studying the young consumer’s behavior is crucial to bringing change upon the e-waste issue because understanding how these people think, and knowing what influences whether they recycle can help bring change upon where to bring awareness and attention. My own research is along the same lines: testing young consumer’s behavior regarding e-waste, however, in Arizona. 

Thank you for reading and see you next blog!

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