Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2014


John Van Buren


This thesis explores the international trade of electronic waste along with the social and environmental threats that this waste poses for those living in conditions of poverty. Although not a new phenomenon, the hazardous waste trade has grown over the years as the amount of technological waste has increased both domestically and worldwide.

Quantitative data along with the application of different disciplines help to assess the environmental, economic, and public health issues associated with the international trade of e-waste. An examination of the history and politics of international trade laws in relation to waste provide context for a discussion of the existing international agreements that allow for this trade to continue. Additionally, it is important to consider the economics that drive the transnational movement of waste and the pollution haven hypothesis. Finally, a case study of the Indian informal recycling industry in conjunction with a discussion of environmental justice helps to investigate the links between the trade of electronic waste, globalization, and poverty.

A synthesis of these findings suggest stricter international regulations for the transnational movement of hazardous waste, market incentives, and technological innovation as potential solutions to this trade-- ideally leading to a more just distribution of environmental costs.