Electronic Waste in the Technology Triangle
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A contemporary planning issue is how to strategically handle electronic waste (e-waste) within urban environments. E-waste is a fast growing waste stream, resulting in increasingly toxic hazards. This thesis employs qualitative research methods to investigate how key actors in a corporate environment mobilize e-waste in the Region of Waterloo. Additionally, the thesis examines the motivational factors, which instigate how e-waste transitions from being an outdated electronic device to being repurposed. Participants were recruited and interviewed from fifteen companies located in the Region of Waterloo to explore how e-waste is understood and what policies exist, if any, to handle a company’s old electronic devices. These participants represent companies where electronics are manufactured, used on a large scale, or where participants were involved in the waste-processing sector. The data collected from the interviews was subjected to a methodology of open coding and axial coding techniques to look for patterns in terms of how e-waste is managed. The results of these interviews revealed that most participants are uncertain how to handle e-waste and that the Region lacks a comprehensive framework for guiding companies in handling their e-waste. The ease of recycling tends to balance on the convenience of e-waste receptacles; financial incentives that enable recycling to be a cost-neutral or a profitable process; and a dependency on the secondhand market for electronics. Furthermore, the results of this thesis indicate that the security of data on the electronic hard drives is critical to e-waste management and that the type of e-waste can often determine the disposal strategy a company utilizes. Recommendations for this thesis include seven strategies to effectively communicate and foster better e-waste management using traditional planning tools and policies aimed at urban planners and corporate strategists.
Cite this version of the work
Carly Rosenblat (2014). Electronic Waste in the Technology Triangle. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/8715