[Research] Waste Electronics – Risk Assessments


board-96597_960_720The research project Waste Electronics – Risk Assessments is running from February 2018 onwards at the Centre for Social Studies of Science. The principle investigator is  Dr. Jennie Olofsson who is coming from Mid-Sweden University.

Dr. Jennie Olofsson obtained in the EC's mobility scheme “Marie Skłodowska-Curie IF – Masterclass« the »Seal of Excellence« (under the supervision of prof. dr. Franc Mali) which assures her the performance of this two-year research project in Slovenia.  The project is financed by Slovenian Research Agency.

Drawing on the field of Science and Technology Studies (S&TS), this research project engages in the regulations that govern the management of electronic waste (e-waste). E-waste is the fastest growing waste category in the world. According to United Nations University (Baldé et al., 2017), 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated globally in 2016;[1] a number that is bound to increase dramatically the next years as Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) continue to proliferate across more and more devices.

While scholars within S&TS traditionally have been occupied with the social consequences of technological and scientific progression[2] less has been said about the goods and services that are rendered obsolete as a direct consequence thereof. This lacuna is unfortunate as scrutiny of what is rendered obsolete offers alternative keys to technological and scientific progression. Looking for example at the refuse that is produced as a consequence of technological progression of ICTs, it is evident that e-waste is one of the biggest socio-environmental challenges of our times. As a means to compensate the omission of some of the previous S&TS studies, feminist methodologies[3] facilitates a critical understanding of the processes and actors that are rendered invisible in questions concerning both technological progression of ICTs and e-waste management as well as the preconditions for the development of risk assessments and policy documents that govern e-waste management. Feminist methodologies then, serves as a tool box to generate new problematics, concepts, hypotheses and purposes of inquiry when it comes to investigating e-waste.

The overall aim of this research project is to investigate the relation between the increasing generation of e-waste, regulations to manage this increase and their subsequent implementation. In doing so, the objectives are:

a) to explore the motives and preconditions for the development of risk assessments and policy documents that govern e-waste management

b) to study the national implementation of some of these risk assessments and policy documents and

c) to - based on the results of objective a and b - identify discrepancies between the increasing generation of e-waste, regulations to manage this increase and their subsequent implementation.

Dissemination of the research results will target policy-makers, NGOs and representatives from electronic waste recycling plants as well as the lay public.

Photo: Pixabay


[1] Baldé, C.P., Forti V., Gray, V., Kuehr, R., Stegmann,P. (2017) The Global E-waste Monitor. United Nations University (UNU), International Telecommunication Union (ITU) & International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), Bonn/Geneva/Vienna.

[2] Latour, B. (1987) Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.; Latour, B. (1993) The pasteurization of France. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.; Bijker, W. E and Law. J. (Eds.) (1992) Shaping Technology/Building Society. Studies in sociotechnical change. Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press.; de Laet, M and Mol, A. (2000) The Zimbabwe bush pump. Mechanics of a fluid technology. Social Studies of Science, Vol. 30(2), pp. 225-263.

[3] Harding. S. (1986) The Science Question in Feminism. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press; Harding, S. (ed.) (1987) Feminism and Methodology. Social Science Issues, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.; Haraway, D. (1989) Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. Feminist Studies. Vol. 14(3), pp. 575-599.; Star, S.L. (1999) The ethnography of infrastructure. American Behavioral Scientist. Vol. 43(3), pp. 377-391.


Back to list of notificationsPublished: 29. May 2018 | Category: Research