October 01, 2015

The Economics of E-Waste and the Cost to the Environment

Christopher “Smitty” Smith

E-waste or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has been generally defined as anything with a cord or battery. See Balde, C.P., Wang, F., Kuehr, R., Huisman, J., The Global E-waste Monitor 2014, Quantities, Flows and Resources, United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) (2014) (Balde). Because products with cords and batteries have been around since at least the nineteenth century, managing the waste stream for those products at the end of their useful life is not a new problem. What is relatively new is the perception of WEEE not just as waste, but instead as a valuable resource that can be managed through reuse of the electronic device itself (reuse), recycling of its components (recycling), or disposal of the device or its components (disposal).

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