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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to understand the importance of personal computers (PCs), new and used, as well as post-consumer management options in the residential sector in developing countries using Peru's capital, Lima, as a case study. Part of this study aims to understand how the growth of secondary markets for PCs satisfies demand of computer services in the residential sector. To achieve these goals a probabilistic survey was carried out in Metropolitan Lima. 600 households were interviewed in this survey. Households were divided into socio-economic levels (SEL) A–E, with A being the wealthiest and most educated and E being the least. Results show that ownership of computers in the residential sector is closely related to SEL, for example, for the highest SEL, SEL A, 93% of households owned a computer, however, only 1% of the households owned a computer in the lowest SEL, SEL E. Regarding the penetration of used computers in households, results show that for SEL A, B, C and D the ratio of used versus new computer ownership increases while SEL decreases. In addition, 68% of the households without a PC at home (HPC−) reported that economic constraint of expense is the main reason to not own one. The survey indicates that people in Lima are increasingly using computers for education, business and entertainment. In general people show a preference to buy a new computer but cost considerations have led to the diffusion of used computers in lower income groups. The penetration rate of used computers in Lima's residential sector is low at this time. People's negative perception of the reliability of used equipment and willingness to pay for new computers affects this penetration rate. Also, residents reported that landfills is the least chosen option, for end-of-life computers, monitors and electronics, with self-reuse and storage being the most selected.

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... A survey in Beijing, China reported that more than 60% of its respondents had sold their old computers and large home appliances to "peddlers" for recycling (Liu et al., 2006). On the other hand, Kahhat and Williams (2010) found that less than 15% of their respondents in Lima, Peru sold used computers and other electronic devices; the majority kept them as spares or in storage. Moreover, even if the premise that households widely sell WEEE is true, combining a buy-back offer with drop-off collection is not necessarily a preferred arrangement. ...
... But, they were less likely to be donated for reuse (18% to 30%, p<0.000 using Fisher's Exact Test), although previous research has shown that ICT, though obsolete, were less likely to be completely unusable or beyond repair than home appliances (Cooper, 2004). In this respect, the call for a more effective way to reuse obsolete but still functioning computers (Kahhat et al. 2010) should be extended to other types of ICT. We will show in Section 3.3 that the proposed policy in Thailand has the potential to draw WEEE out of storage. ...
Article
This article assesses the potential and the limitations of Thailand's proposed policy which would have local governments buy back targeted waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) from households at designated locations. The proposal relies on the premise that a monetary incentive at the time of disposal is needed to gain participation from households which would otherwise sell to private waste dealers who purchase and then introduce WEEE into the pollution-causing informal recycling sector. To see whether the premise and the proposed policy were valid, a large-scale survey of 1529 households was conducted. This article reports these households’ past behavior in, and future preferences for the disposal of 10 particular WEEE items: televisions, digital cameras, portable media players, desktop printers, mobile phones, personal computers, refrigerators, air conditioners, fluorescent lamps, and dry-cell batteries, which were prioritized under the Thai WEEE Strategy. We also tested the effects of population density, distance to the hypothetical drop-off location, car ownership, product weight and the financial incentive offered on the respondents’ past decisions and future choices. The survey results show that creating a standardized program to buy back WEEE at designated drop-off locations has a potential of getting household WEEE introduced into the formal recycling sector. It could also help eliminate the psychological hurdle of parting with obsolete products and encourage their disposal. However, the program may not be enough to convince people to stop selling WEEE to waste dealers, especially if they had done so in the past. Based on the results, recommendations to improve the viability of the proposed policy and to direct and enhance future research are outlined.
... As more studies and empirical materials speaking to e-waste flows and pollution havens emerge, there is an emerging consensus that a broader scope of factors must be considered as shaping the movement of e-waste to developing countries (Kahhat and Williams, 2010;Lepawsky and Billah, 2011;Reddy, 2015), which would also loosen the framing of these flows as simply a dumping of pollution or a flight of economic activities to the regulatory shadows. This less monolithic account of flows to hubs in developing countries is joined by recent 2 While definitions of what constitutes an industrial hub are often contentious, we employ a loose operational definition of informal e-waste hubs as geographic regions where e-waste processing and related economic activities are the primary industry supported by an integrated cluster of markets, technologies, and labour. ...
Article
Initial, and still dominant, explanations of transboundary e-waste flows have relied on the Pollution Haven Hypothesis (PHH), which theorizes that pollution intensive economic activities will relocate to jurisdictions with the most relaxed environmental regulations. This hypothesis has influenced the parameters of the BAN Amendment to the Basel Convention, which uniformly restricts the movement of hazardous waste (including e-waste) from the global North-to-South. Recent research, however, has shown that e-waste does not simply flow to less regulated areas with cheaper labor: for example, flows are not simply from North-to-South, and e-waste processing areas are only in a subset of developing countries and very specific regions within these. Specifically, e-waste processing tends to be done very largely within “hubs,” regional concentrations of firms and organizations, which, though overwhelmingly informal, exhibit many of the characteristics of other kinds of industrial clusters. Thus, a more nuanced theory of e-waste destinations is overdue, promising greater explanatory power as well as more granular and effective policy stances and tools. This paper contributes to these goals by synthesizing indications from the literature on e-waste hubs in Africa and Asia of recurring factors shaping their emergence, and further elaborating these on the basis of our own extensive field research in two very different informal e-waste hubs in Palestine and Ghana. This analysis offers an initial theory of place-specific characteristics and circumstances that attract and facilitate the emergence and agglomeration of such industries. Our findings thus allow us to move beyond the PHH first pass macro conceptualizations to more nuanced and dynamic accounts of e-waste destinations at a regional and even micro-level, as well to challenge and improve upon the policies derived from the PHH framing.
... Such environmental awareness is high among users. For example, in a Lima, Peru survey about adoption and disposal of computers, seven out of ten households responded that they know that the improper disposal of computer creates an environmental risk and consider reuse to be a preferable option (Kahhat and Williams, 2010). ...
Article
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Chapter
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Book
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Book
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Article
This paper considers the importation of used personal computers (PCs) in Peru and domestic practices in their production, reuse, and end-of-life processing. The empirical pillars of this study are analysis of government data describing trade in used and new computers and surveys and interviews of computer sellers, refurbishers, and recyclers. The United States is the primary source of used PCs imported to Peru. Analysis of shipment value (as measured by trade statistics) shows that 87-88% of imported used computers had a price higher than the ideal recycle value of constituent materials. The official trade in end-of-life computers is thus driven by reuse as opposed to recycling. The domestic reverse supply chain of PCs is well developed with extensive collection, reuse, and recycling. Environmental problems identified include open burning of copper-bearing wires to remove insulation and landfilling of CRT glass. Distinct from informal recycling in China and India, printed circuit boards are usually not recycled domestically but exported to Europe for advanced recycling or to China for (presumably) informal recycling. It is notable that purely economic considerations lead to circuit boards being exported to Europe where environmental standards are stringent, presumably due to higher recovery of precious metals.
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This paper shows that increases in the minimum wage rate can have ambiguous effects on the working hours and welfare of employed workers in competitive labor markets. The reason is that employers may not comply with the minimum wage legislation and instead pay a lower subminimum wage rate. If workers are risk neutral, we prove that working hours and welfare are invariant to the minimum wage rate. If workers are risk averse and imprudent (which is the empirically likely case), then working hours decrease with the minimum wage rate, while their welfare may increase.
Article
Reverse supply chains for the reuse, recycling, and disposal of goods are globalizing. This article critically reviews the environmental, economic, and social issues associated with international reuse and recycling of personal computers. Computers and other e-waste are often exported for reuse and recycling abroad. On the environmental side, our analysis suggests that the risk of leaching of toxic materials in computers from well-managed sanitary landfills is very small. On the other hand, there is an increasing body of scientific evidence that the environmental impacts of informal recycling in developing countries are serious. On the basis of existing evidence informal recycling is the most pressing environmental issue associated with e-waste. Socially, used markets abroad improve access to information technology by making low-priced computers available. Economically, the reuse and recycling sector provides employment. Existing policies efforts to manage e-waste focus on mandating domestic recycling systems and reducing toxic content of processes. We argue that existing policy directions will mitigate but not solve the problem of the environmental impacts of informal recycling. There are many opportunities yet to be explored to develop policies and technologies for reuse/recycling systems which are environmentally safe, encourage reuse of computers, and provide jobs.
Article
The total energy and fossil fuels used in producing a desktop computer with 17-in. CRT monitor are estimated at 6400 megajoules (MJ) and 260 kg, respectively. This indicates that computer manufacturing is energy intensive: the ratio of fossil fuel use to product weight is 11, an order of magnitude larger than the factor of 1-2 for many other manufactured goods. This high energy intensity of manufacturing, combined with rapid turnover in computers, results in an annual life cycle energy burden that is surprisingly high: about 2600 MJ per year, 1.3 times that of a refrigerator. In contrast with many home appliances, life cycle energy use of a computer is dominated by production (81%) as opposed to operation (19%). Extension of usable lifespan (e.g. by reselling or upgrading) is thus a promising approach to mitigating energy impacts as well as other environmental burdens associated with manufacturing and disposal.
Article
This study examined trace metal contamination of sediments in Guiyu, China where primitive e-waste processing activities have been carried out. It was found that some river sediments in Guiyu were contaminated with Cd (n.d.-10.3mg/kg), Cu (17.0-4540mg/kg), Ni (12.4-543mg/kg), Pb (28.6-590mg/kg), and Zn (51.3-324mg/kg). The (206)Pb/(207)Pb and (208)Pb/(207)Pb ratios of the Pb-contaminated sediments of Lianjiang (1.1787+/-0.0057 and 2.4531+/-0.0095, respectively) were lower than those of Nanyang River (1.1996+/-0.0059 and 2.4855+/-0.0082, respectively), indicating a significant input of non-indigenous Pb with low (206)Pb/(207)Pb and (208)Pb/(207)Pb ratios. Copper, Pb and Zn in the non-residual fractions noticeably increased in the contaminated sediments compared to those in the uncontaminated sediments. A genuine concern is associated with potential transport of the contaminated sediments downstream and enhanced solubility and mobility of trace metals in the non-residual fractions.
Article
Guiyu, China is infamous for its involvement in primitive e-waste processing and recycling activities. Freshwater samples were collected in and outside of Guiyu for dissolved metal analysis. It was found that dissolved metal concentrations were higher in Lianjiang and Nanyang River within Guiyu than the reservoir outside of Guiyu. Lianjiang was enriched with dissolved As, Cr, Li, Mo, Sb and Se, while Nanyang River had elevated dissolved Ag, Be, Cd, Co, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn. Temporal distributions of the metals suggested recent discharges of metals attributable to a strong acid leaching operation of e-waste, where dissolved Ag, Cd, Cu and Ni (0.344+/-0.014, 0.547+/-0.074, 87.6+/-3.0 and 93.0+/-1.4 microg/L, respectively) were significantly elevated. Pb isotopic composition of dissolved Pb confirmed that more than one non-indigenous Pb were present in Lianjiang and Nanyang River. In summary, it was evident that the riverine environment of Guiyu was heavily impacted by e-waste related activities.
Article
Surface soils and combusted residue from a village located in southeast China, which has been intensely involved in the dismantling and "recycling" of computer parts (e-waste) for the past decade, were analyzed for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs). Total PBDE concentrations were highest in combusted residue of plastic chips and cables collected from a residential area (33,000-97,400 ng/g, dry wt), in soils from an acid leaching site (2720-4250 ng/g, dry wt), and a printer roller dump site (593-2890 ng/g, dry wt). BDE-209 was the most dominant congener (35-82%) among the study sites indicating the prevalence of commercial Deca-BDE, however signature congeners from commercial Penta- and Octa-BDE were also found. PCDD/F concentrations were also highest in soil from the acid leaching site (12,500-89,800 pg/g, 203-1100 pg WHO-TEQ/g, dry wt) and in combusted residue (13,500-25,300 pg/g, 84.3-174 pg WHO-TEQ/g, dry wt) and were comparable to PCDD/F levels of some open dumping sites in Asian developing countries. Of the e-waste activities, acid leaching and open burning emitted the highest concentrations of PBDEs and PCDD/Fs. This study is among the very few studies dealing with the important issue of pollution generated from crude e-waste recycling. Our results showthatthe crude processing of e-waste has become one of the major contributors of PBDEs and PCDD/Fs to the terrestrial environment.
Article
Adverse selection is a significant contributor to market failure in secondary personal computer (PC) markets. Signaling can act as a potential solution to adverse selection and facilitate superior remarketing of second-hand PCs. Signaling is a means whereby usage information can be utilized to enhance consumer perception of both value and utility of used PCs and, therefore, promote lifetime extension for these systems. This can help mitigate a large portion of the environmental impact associated with PC system manufacture. In this paper, the computer buying and selling behavior of consumers is characterized via a survey of 270 Irish residential users. Results confirm the existence of adverse selection in the Irish market with 76% of potential buyers being unwilling to purchase and 45% of potential vendors being unwilling to sell a used PC. The so-called "closet affect" is also apparent with 78% of users storing their PC after use has ceased. Results also indicate that consumers place a higher emphasis on specifications when considering a second-hand purchase. This contradicts their application needs which are predominantly Internet and word-processing/spreadsheet/presentation applications, 88% and 60% respectively. Finally, a market solution utilizing self monitoring and reporting technology (SMART) sensors for the purpose of real time usage monitoring is proposed, that can change consumer attitudes with regard to second-hand computer equipment.
Conference Paper
Computer purchase, operation and disposition patterns are characterized via a survey of about 1,000 Japanese residential users. The mains purposes are a) to better characterize the energy burden of the national IT infrastructure and b) to understand the status and prospects of the market for used equipment. Results include that the average length between buying new PCs in is 2.9 years, older computers typically spend 2.8 years unused in closets before next disposition (donation, recycling, or other). These and other results are used to estimate that annual life cycle energy burden of home PCs in Japan is 9.7 × 10<sup>10</sup> megajoules (MJ), 0.64% of total energy demand. Considering prospects for the used market, apparently there is a large untapped potential supply of used computers: only about 13% of users reported having sold or purchased a used PC, and 55% said that they had never considered selling a computer. There is likely a "hole" in the supply of mid-level used PCs (2-4 years old), with high-end ones (1-2 years old) being sold by power users buying new machines, and low-end ones (5-6 year) coming from storage. Potential demand is less promising: users report many concerns about purchasing used computers, such as warranties, reliability, and desire to have "my own" computer. There is likely much higher demand for used PCs in neighboring countries in developing Asia. Prompt reselling of used computers by Japanese users could potentially open a door to supplying inexpensive, quality computers for the export market.
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