Optimizing Existing Networks in E-waste Management to Establish a Circular Economy Public
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The goal of this project was to identify the electronic waste (e-waste) networks in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in order to inform the establishment of a circular economy. To do this, we partnered with the National University of Science and Technology of Zimbabwe to piece together the e-waste networks, understanding how e-waste moves through the country, what policies govern it, and where the system is losing value. Collaborating directly with Zimbabweans was especially important to understand the local vernacular surrounding e-waste and recycling. To carry out this project, we conducted interviews with stakeholders in the network. Zimbabwe’s Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Richmond landfill representatives, and repair technicians were able to provide us with information necessary to link the e-waste network together, as well as identify cracks. We discovered points at which electronics, and therefore value and profit, were being exported from Bulawayo. This revealed the potential to establish a circular economy. We provided recommendations on how to close those gaps and keep the value of e-waste contained within Bulawayo. Rather than exporting e-waste as raw, dysfunctional materials from which other countries profit, Bulawayo would gain greater value if it could repair and reuse this raw material, iterating between users and processors of the e-waste and exporting it as functional machines.
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