Repairing Worlds

Repairing and maintaining used electronics

Below are interviews recorded with people who repair and maintain used electronics. We initiated these interviews as part of the Reassembling Rubbish project which focused on global flows of discarded electronics (or 'e-waste'). In pursuing that research, it became obvious that the work and the sites of repair and maintenance operate as crucial, but too often overlooked, drivers of those flows. These interviews provide a substantial set of qualitative evidence for thinking carefully about the relationships between electronics that are discarded as well as those that are repaired and refurbished. In one way or another, almost everyone in these interviews addresses working with used or discarded electronics which, according to some definitions, would count as 'e-waste'.

Along with our qualitative approach to this activity, we have also begun quantifying what might be called the 'environmental offsets' of the reuse, repair, refurbishment, and recycling of electronics by people in this sector. Our preliminary results suggest that laptop repair alone in a single cluster of such businesses we study in Lima, Peru leads to avoided greenhouse gas emissions of between 1.56-3.60 Gg CO2e (1560-3600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent).

See: Gusukuma, Marco, Ramzy Kahhat, Josh Lepawsky, and Erin Araujo. 2017. ‘Reducing E-Waste Flows by Extending Lifespan Through Repair Practices: Case Study of Laptops in Lima’. In Proceedings of the 16th International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium. Sardinia. [Download PDF]

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