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Research by geographers at the University of Northampton has led to changes in the effective management of solid waste, including waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), in developing countries. This work has had far-reaching consequences both for international strategies to deal with the huge volumes of waste that modern societies generate annually, and for the health and livelihoods of local communities.



Waste streams, especially those from waste electrical and electronic equipment and healthcare facilities, pose human health risks from inhaling toxic fumes to bacterial and viral contamination (in the case of healthcare waste).



Research by geographers at the University of Northampton has focused on the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks associated with the management of selected waste streams.



This research has contributed to policy development in the UK, notably through representation on the advisory board for the All Party Sustainable Resource Group (Jan 2001 – Jan 2020), contributions to the Chartered Institution of Waste Management’s official guidance document for healthcare waste management in England and Wales, and the European Union’s Wastes Management Technical Working Group. The working group played a key role in contributing to a European Commission policy report focused on the effective management of healthcare waste across Europe.

The University of Northampton partnered with REBus, an EU Life+ project which worked with companies directly, in particular on schemes that incentivise the return of products for recycling or reuse. This collaboration aimed to divert these products from entering waste streams. As one example, REBus helped Argos, a retailer with 740 high-street outlets, to implement a ‘gadget trade-in service’.

The research has also improved waste management in developing countries, through innovative tools for LaWEEEda, which raised understanding of WEEE for a variety of third-sector stakeholders in Brazil and Nicaragua.


More information

Institution: University of Northampton

Researchers:  Professor Margaret Bates, Dr Terry Tudor


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How to cite

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Hazardous waste and the circular economy. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>