Yes, We Will! Voluntarism in US E-Waste Governance

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Abstract

Electronic waste has recently emerged as an environmental issue of growing concern. This is due to the increasing consumption of electronic devices and a heightened awareness for the potentially detrimental environmental impact of a non-sustainable management of these devices in their end-of-life stage. In this article e-waste governance in the USA will be explored. More specifically, the voluntary collaborative initiatives that are taken at the federal level, in a context where a general regulatory framework is largely absent, will be examined. Such voluntarism is linked to a larger trend towards voluntary action in US environmental governance and to a particular framing of the e-waste problem as a materials management, instead of a waste management, challenge with shared responsibilities for all stakeholders. A critical exploration of the various initiatives will show that the voluntary public–private partnerships on e-waste have only produced limited results so far.

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