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Recycling of ICT Equipment in Industrialized and Developing Countries

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Böni, Heinz, Mathias Schluep, and Rolf Widmer. 2015. “Recycling of ICT Equipment in Industrialized and Developing Countries.” In ICT Innovations for Sustainability, edited by Lorenz M. Hilty and Bernard Aebischer, 310:223–41. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

The increasing penetration of society with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is resulting in growing waste volumes. Typical of this waste is the combination of its intrinsic value due to the high content of basic and precious metals with health and environmental hazards caused by the occurrence of toxic substances in combination with inadequate recycling practices. Based on the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), industrialized countries have legislated WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) management. As a consequence, producers established take-back schemes. In developing countries, the absence of a legal framework and formal recycling infrastructure as well as the presence of the self-organized informal sector has complicated similar efforts. In some countries, progress could be achieved through the promulgation of a legal framework and the establishment of basic recycling infrastructure. The environmental and social aspects associated with the improper recycling of WEEE and the sustainable reintegration of secondary resources demands strong efforts from industry, government, and civil society.

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