[W]EEE or Disposability

01 / Interscalar mapping along the research to mark forces directing e-waste streams: from international and domestic legal regulations, technological innovation and trends, commercialisation of EEE products, media attention on hazardous spills incidents to monitoring and projecting of WEEE data. The timeline starts with the first EU Waste Framework Directive of 1977.  

CRA / 2020 

WEEE = Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment 
EEE = Electronic and Electrical Equipment

[W]EEE is an ongoing research into the spatial movements of e-waste and alternative approaches to e-waste processing with a specific focus on repair communities, repair infrastructure and the question of repair within market regulations and private property rights.

WEEE is the fastest growing waste stream with a majority of global WEEE not being documentedly processed or properly recycled. There is evidence of a largescale international gray makret or shadow economy for the trade of second hand, disposed EEE to be reused. This transboundary secondary trade is vastly dependent on informal processes—such as unprotected manual labour for disassembly—and as such unable to prevent the high risks to human health and the environment caused by WEEE. Meanwhile techno-solutionism proposes the introduction and shift to ‘smarter’ and ‘greener’ technologies to be distributed, while the questions of the enormous loss of material resources, embodied energies and end-of-life costs to human health and environment caused by disposed, old, unwanted products remain unanswered. 

The dominant narrative in EU legislations and directives regarding WEEE has been on establishing recycling infrastructure and supporting the establihsment of recycling initiatives. Recycling of WEEE means the shredding of devices to gain access to only a fraction of the contained materials under energy intensive processes. Processes of reuse and repair, in contrast, preserve a vast share of embodied energies within electronic devices, by extending a product’s usability and hence lifetime and as such postponing the need for new materials to be extracted and processed. An important movement relevant to this work is the Right to Repair (R2R) campain, which has pushed successfully for the first introduction of such a right in Europe for large domestic appliances. In official literature on WEEE, reuse and repair are stated as top priority in official waste hierarchies—after product design decisions—to prevent wastegrowth. Nevertheless, despite the very recent R2R, repair and reuse have not gained much attention in strategies and plans proposed to address the question of e-waste. 

02  / Extreme close-up of numerical codes for identification printed onto internal components of genuine Apple Inc. products, next to a 2mm sized trademark logo. 

The limitation of repair due to design and private property laws (trademark law, copyright and IP in specific) – language of securitization and customer safety to justify inaccessibility of parts. 

Case of HH in Norway

Case of Recycling – not whether right or wrong but cases reveal something beneath final judgement of court. This is how Apple and related companies use these rights as instruments for monopoly and to oppress independent practices related to their devices. 

03 / Excerpt transscript from recording of the Apple expert wittness court hearing during the trial between Apple Inc. and independent repair shop owner Henrik Huseby in Norway. 

Smartphone vs. other e-waste items. 

Case of another generic househgold product (toaster, kettle, light, bluetooth speaker, ...)