Each week or so, the news editors at Geography Directions publish an article offering a topical take on a piece of geographical research. The blog is run by the Society and Wiley (who publish our journals), with the aim of making journal articles accessible and relevant to a wider audience.
It is edited by postgraduate students, who source and contribute articles on a great variety of topics. Stories in recent weeks have focused on flood risk, European aviation, sustainable urbanism, the politics of the Olympics and much more besides.
In the most recent article, Professor Josh Lepawsky argues for a different approach to the global problem of electronic waste (e-waste). This is based on an open access research article published in The Geographical Journal earlier this month. It maps international trade in disposed electronics including computers, mobile phones and televisions.
Having analysed 16 years of trade data for 206 territories and more than 9,400 trade transactions, Josh finds that, contrary to popular belief, the majority of e-waste is not sent from the developed to the developing world. In fact, trading among the EU, OECD and Lichtenstein could account for as much as 82% of international e-waste flows.
Furthermore, the flow of e-waste from the developing to the developed world, has actually grown from 6.5 million kilograms in 1996 to over 140 million kilograms in 2012.
“[Trade bans] are increasingly irrelevant to present and likely future e-waste trade patterns,” Josh says. “Trade is occurring almost entirely in directions that are either permissible under extant rules or in patterns not even imagined by those rules to be worthy of regulation. It is time to rethink the e-waste problem.”
Geography Directions is recruiting its next round of news editors. If you are a postgraduate student wanting to communicate geographical research to a broader audience, email us to find out more.
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We support the aims of TEF but express concern that its metrics (including student satisfaction and employment outcomes) do not capture teaching excellence and do not explore nuances in localised provision.
Chipo Meke is a Management Consultant for KMPG in London.
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