Cooperative relations for e-waste management

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E-waste has become among the fastest growing municipal wastes in the world. Therefore, attention to this waste stream, and its effective processing, deserves our attention. We will argue in this chapter that effective e-waste management is based on the cooperative relations between all actors involved. We base our arguments in favour of cooperative relations on a case study in two very distinct environments in terms of e-waste management: Belgium and Kenya. Our case study research illustrates that the strong cooperation between different stakeholders leads to effective waste management, and this is irrespective of the significant differences between the e-waste management systems in both two countries. Overall, this case study provides a good illustration of relational stakeholder engagement and contributes to understanding the complexity of relational stakeholder engagement approaches of multiple constituents with diverging stakes. Once each stakeholder has a clear role and contribution in the process, such a relational approach becomes an advantage to resolving rather challenging sustainability issues.

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To understand human contamination by multi-trace elements (TEs) in electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) recycling site at Agbogbloshie, Accra in Ghana, this study analyzed TEs and As speciation in urine of e-waste recycling workers. Concentrations of Fe, Sb, and Pb in urine of e-waste recycling workers were significantly higher than those of reference sites after consideration of interaction by age, indicating that the recycling workers are exposed to these TEs through the recycling activity. Urinary As concentration was relatively high, although the level in drinking water was quite low. Speciation analysis of As in human urine revealed that arsenobetaine and dimethylarsinic acid were the predominant As species and concentrations of both species were positively correlated with total As concentration as well as between each other. These results suggest that such compounds may be derived from the same source, probably fish and shellfish and greatly influence As exposure levels. To our knowledge, this is the first study on human contamination resulting from the primitive recycling of e-waste in Ghana. This study will contribute to the knowledge about human exposure to trace elements from an e-waste site in a less industrialized region so far scantly covered in the literature.