Organizing e-waste

Stowell, Alison (2012) Organizing e-waste. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Over the past thirty years the reliance on Information Communication Technologies (ICT’s) has generated a new form of waste called e-waste. E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams. It is well known that ICT’s contain materials that, without proper care, are harmful to the environment. The EU responded to these concerns through the creation of the Waste of Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive, introduced into the UK in 2006. WEEE aims to control electrical and electronic waste through the promotion of reducing, reuse, recycling and recovery. The intention is to improve the environmental profile of those operating within the waste sector with the intention of protecting soil, water and air pollution and to preserve valuable resources. Despite the raised awareness of the problems e-waste contributes globally there is a limited understanding of the significance of the growth of the new form of waste and, specifically, local enactments of waste management. The focus of this thesis is how six organizations within the computer recovery sector have adopted the WEEE legislation. Insights from neo-institutional theory provide an aid to understanding the impact that the legislation has had on the working practices of six organisations dealing with e-waste. An action research approach was adopted for the field research as a means of collecting and analysing qualitative data. In this thesis three arguments are developed. First is that the implementation of the WEEE legislation rests upon the initial categorization of a computer at the point of disposal. Categories relating to waste are not static, but constantly evolving as local negotiation takes place between dominant actor groups. The findings support how categorization determines the trajectory of a computer and plays a crucial role in influencing and reinforcing the boundaries around associated working practices. Second, that the WEEE legislation has created a framework through which institutional entrepreneurs have been able to both bring about changes in their organisation but also to stabilise specific working practices. Institutional entrepreneurs achieve this by mobilising changes to the products and services their organization offers in the context of an emergent institutional field and by reinforcing their occupational identity. Third, that legislation has raised awareness of the complexity of computer design and the multiplicity of disposal practices, but it has also reinforced long-standing associations of waste as a particular type of occupation with specific organizational practices.

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Thesis (PhD)
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05 Aug 2014 20:59
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 05:33