From Treasure to Trash: The Lingering Value of Technological Artifacts

Abstract

Electronic waste (e-waste) is the fastest growing form of waste worldwide, associated with a range of environmental, health, and justice problems. Unfortunately, disposal and recycling are hindered by a tendency of consumers to resist recycling their e-waste. This backlog of un-discarded e-waste poses significant challenges for the future. This paper addresses the reasons why many people might continue to value their technological artifacts and therefore to hoard them, suggesting that many of these common explanations are deficient in some way. It argues instead for a derivative kind of value, here labelled “system value”. Addressing the problem of hoarding by invoking the idea of system value, the authors conjecture, could offer some clarity about how to move forward with more successful e-waste management programs.

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Correspondence to Benjamin Hale.

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Hale, B., McAllister, L. From Treasure to Trash: The Lingering Value of Technological Artifacts. Sci Eng Ethics 26, 619–640 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-019-00107-1

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Keywords

  • E-waste
  • System value
  • Lifeworld
  • Recycling