University of Limerick
Casey_2019_Treasured.pdf (23.84 MB)

Treasured trash? A consumer perspective on small Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) divestment in Ireland

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-24, 16:06 authored by Katherine Casey, MARIA LICHROUMARIA LICHROU, COLIN FITZPATRICKCOLIN FITZPATRICK
Small Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (sWEEE) is a particularly problematic category of electronic waste. A growing body of research indicates that sWEEE tends to be either stockpiled or disposed of improperly (references). However, despite this, little attention has been given to the meanings people ascribe to their electronic and electrical possessions; meanings which continue to apply even when they are disused or broken. The purpose of this study was to generate insight into this area and to identify opportunities for intervention to increase sWEEE recycling. A quasi-ethnographic approach was used to investigate sWEEE disposal behaviour from the perspective of Irish consumers. The rationale for this approach was the need to reconcile the policy perspective on sWEEE with the subjective experiences and interpretations that drive people’s behaviour. The findings reveal that from the time electronic and electrical devices enter consumers’ lives until their disposal, they exist in fluid in-between states of meaning and have perceived value. Before divestment, sWEEE typically undergoes a four-stage journey: a) once electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) is no longer used, it tends to be either consciously stored or abandoned in the home (inactive EEE); b) a trigger prompts consumers to divest of the inactive EEE (critical moment); c) provoked to take action, consumers must decide precisely what to discard and how (transition from EEE to WEEE); d) consumers decide to recycle or not (divestment). The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings in terms of encouraging increased sWEEE recycling.



Resources, Conservation and Recycling;145, pp. 179-189




peer-reviewed The full text of this article will not be available in ULIR until the embargo expires on the 04/03/2021

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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Resources, Conservation and Recycling . Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 2019, 145, pp. 179-189,



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