ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Revitalising Economies of Disassembly

Informal Recyclers, Development Experts and E-Waste Reforms in Bangalore

In the last decade, reforms introduced by the Indo-German-Swiss e-Waste Initiative were meant to modernise and revitalise Bangalore's informal e-waste recycling sector. While the reforms rapidly transformed the circuits of e-waste recycling in the city, the outcomes have been less than ideal for informal recyclers. This article charts the changing role of informal e-waste recyclers in the wake of the introduction of reforms and shows how reforms disconnected a majority of informal recyclers - who have historically underwritten the costs of disposing the city's e-waste - from newly modernised circuits of e-waste recycling. In sum, it reveals that the reforms provided an impetus to "corporate privatisation" and undermined the extant network of "informal privatisation" of e-waste in Bangalore.

This paper is based partly on dissertation fieldwork conducted in Bangalore. The author wishes to acknowledge Consortium on Law, Value and Ethics in Health and Environment and the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change, both at the University of Minnesota, for providing research grants that made fieldwork possible.

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