Version 3.2

E-waste - the forgotten material dimension of digitalisation

When talking about a digital transformation of society, we are often discussing possibilities and benefits while overlooking the significant material dimension of these processes. However, the amount of resources and energy necessary for the production of hardware and its usage is often underestimated and e-waste is a considerable category in waste management. According to the Global E-Waste Monitor (2020) 53.6 megatons of e-waste are produced annually, which is projected to grow to 74.7 megatons by 2030, making it one of the fastest-growing waste streams. Currently, over 80 percent of e-waste flows are not accounted for. The volume of (illegal) transboundary movements of e-waste is estimated to be 7-20 percent. The problem is often framed in terms of dumping of e-waste by the Global North in countries of the Global South. Therefore, aspects of global inequalities and power imbalances in regard to resource use, environmental degradation and (global) division of labour have to be taken into consideration when reflecting on imaginaries relating to a digital transformation, and in what ways and to what extent digital technology can be a part of a sustainable future.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 17:00
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-8-2
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Technology and science for degrowth


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