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Extractivism, Value and Waste: Organizational Mining of e-Waste in the United Kingdom

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Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa
Issue number1
Volume2018
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)75-95
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this paper we critically evaluate the mining and extraction of e-waste – electronic waste – and the relationship with the emerging cleaner and greener economy. Drawing on ethnographic data, gathered from an e-waste management organization – e-WasteOrg, we show how e-waste and value are assembled, extracted and circulated within local, national and global contexts. To date little attention has been paid to interdependent systems of waste and value. We argue that e-WasteOrg operates polyphonically in order to secure, routinize and circulate the ongoing disposal of e-waste. Extracting waste becomes associated with a range of differentiated value systems, as sourcing and valuing waste is a continual concern for those in the waste management sector. As more waste is sought, we conclude that a cleaner and greener economy is both constricting in terms of new market entrants and expanding as waste management actors mine for materials across value systems.

Keywords: e-waste, extractivism, mining, value, waste, green economy, circular economy