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Reviews on Environmental Health

Editor-in-Chief: Carpenter, David O. / Sly, Peter

Editorial Board: Brugge, Doug / Edwards, John W. / Field, R.William / Garbisu, Carlos / Hales, Simon / Horowitz, Michal / Lawrence, Roderick / Maibach, H.I. / Shaw, Susan / Tao, Shu / Tchounwou, Paul B.

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 1.616

CiteScore 2018: 1.69

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.508
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.664

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Volume 31, Issue 1


Global challenges for e-waste management: the societal implications

Federico Magalini
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute for Advanced Studies of Sustainability, United Nations University, Operating Unit SCYCLE, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1, 53113 Bonn, Germany
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2016-01-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2015-0035


Over the last decades the electronics industry and ICT Industry in particular has revolutionized the world: electrical and electronic products have become ubiquitous in today’s life around the planet. After use, those products are discarded, sometimes after re-use cycles in countries different from those where they were initially sold; becoming what is commonly called e-waste. Compared to other traditional waste streams, e-waste handling poses unique and complex challenges. e-Waste is usually regarded as a waste problem, which can cause environmental damage and severe human health consequences if not safely managed. e-Waste contains significant amounts of toxic and environmentally sensitive materials and is, thus, extremely hazardous to humans and the environment if not properly disposed of or recycled. On the other hand, e-waste is often seen as a potential source of income for individuals and entrepreneurs who aim to recover the valuable materials (metals in particular) contained in discarded equipment. Recently, for a growing number of people, in developing countries in particular, recycling and separation of e-waste has become their main source of income. In most cases, this is done informally, with no or hardly any health and safety standards, exposing workers and the surrounding neighborhoods to extensive health dangers as well as leading to substantial environmental pollution. Treatment processes of e-waste aim to remove the hazardous components and recover as much reusable material (e.g. metals, glass and plastics) as possible; achieving both objectives is most desired. The paper discuss societal implications of proper e-waste management and key elements to be considered in the policy design at country level.

Keywords: e-waste; human health; policy; policy development


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    Baldé CP, Wang F, Kuehr R, Huisman J. The global e-waste monitor – 2014. Bonn, Germany: United Nations University, IAS – SCYCLE, 2015.Google Scholar

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    Perkins DN, Brune-Drisse MN, Nxele T, Sly PD. E-Waste: a global hazard. Annals of Global Health 2015;80(4):286-95.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • 3.

    Magalini F, Crock W, Kuehr R. EWA. Toolkit: practical guide to e-waste management system design. Bonn, Germany: United Nations University, IAS – SCYCLE, 2013.Google Scholar

About the article

Corresponding author: Federico Magalini, Institute for Advanced Studies of Sustainability, United Nations University, Operating Unit SCYCLE, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1, 53113 Bonn, Germany, E-mail:

Received: 2015-10-09

Accepted: 2015-10-14

Published Online: 2016-01-20

Published in Print: 2016-03-01

Citation Information: Reviews on Environmental Health, Volume 31, Issue 1, Pages 137–140, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2015-0035.

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