• Geographies of Digital Wasting: Electronic Waste From Mine to Discard and Back Again

    Lauren Bridges, Ingrid Burrington, Ann Chen, Zane Griffin Talley Cooper (see profile) , Margaret Macherera, Jasper Mangwana, Vusumuzi Maphosa, David Zezai
    Shubhra Goel
    Item Type:
    Online publication
    STS, Environmental Humanities, internet studies, critical geography, multimodal, global-local dynamics
    Permanent URL:
    What is electronic waste? E-waste conjures images of discarded computers, phones, TVs, hard drives, and endless piles of broken components at the end of their useful life. As a post-consumer object, e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream on the planet and an escalating environmental emergency. The issue of e-waste embodies global and regional inequities between geographies of digital consumption and geographies of digital wasting. Inequities in global flows of e-waste have been documented between high-income nations in the Global North, like the United States, and lower-income nations in the Global South. Inter-regional flows of e-waste also occur between South-to-South nations, which leaves countries like Zimbabwe overburdened with tonnes of toxic digital waste to process. But the true expanse and diversity of waste generated in the building and maintenance of digital life goes well beyond the unequal movement of post-consumer discards. In fact, recent studies have shown that a majority of the waste and pollution produced during the life of most computing devices comes from resource extraction and manufacturing {Lepawsky, 2017; Gupta et al., 2020). This exhibit illuminates the vast networks of digital wastes that stretch across varied geographies of extraction, manufacturing, operation, and discard.
    Published as:
    Online publication    
    Last Updated:
    4 months ago


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