Periodic Reporting for period 1 - E-Waste Challenge (Tackling the Electronic Waste Challenge in Emerging Economies)
Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2021-03-31
An ethical clearance was granted by the Sociaal-Maatschappelijke Ethische Commissie (SMEC) - Social and Societal Ethics Committee at KU Leuven before commencing my field research both in India and South Africa. Semi-structured expert interviews were carried out with E-waste experts in India while a detailed consumer survey with more than 1000 respondents was carried out with purposively selected respondents in the city of New Delhi. All the respondents were provided an informed consent form and a participant information sheet. Only with their consent, the study was carried out. Prior to that, I conducted a pilot study in New Delhi for a month in order to assess the feasibility of the study and as a pre-survey measure to finalize and validate the designed questionnaire. The study in India resulted in three research papers. The pilot study was published in the journal, Environmental Science and Pollution Research. Another two papers are under consideration for publication.
The field research in South Africa was unfortunately highly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After completing all the required formalities such as ethical clearance, I and my supervisor, Prof. Katja Biedenkopf, finalized a detailed plan for field research in South Africa and had scheduled interviews with E-waste experts in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. We also planned to carry out a survey on consumers’ E-waste disposal behaviour and awareness. We started our field trip at Pretoria in March 2020. However, after a few days, we had to stop our trip and come back on advice of KU Leuven and the Belgian Embassy in Pretoria. We could conduct a few expert interviews in the country and almost completed our expert interview schedule via Skype in the subsequent months. We are currently working on a paper on our South African experience which will lead to a comparative paper between Indian and South African E-waste governance scenario. Unfortunately, the consumer survey in the country could not be conducted remotely.
The results of my project have been disseminated through various platforms such as academic conferences, public talks, opinion articles, blog post etc. I have presented my work in five conferences/workshop. A few of the conferences supposed to be held in 2020 had been postponed to 2021. Accordingly, I am expected to present my work in another seven conferences in the coming months. Public talks were a crucial element of my knowledge transfer mechanism during the project. I believe that it is essential to transfer the knowledge both within and beyond the academic audience. I gave a total of eleven public talks over the course of my project. Similar to the public talks, I wrote seven articles on various aspects of E-waste in newspapers, magazines and as blog post. Not restricting myself only to English, I wrote two articles in my native language, Assamese. The purpose was to create wider awareness and greater access to knowledge on an ever-increasing waste stream. Further, I had written a white paper for a think tank named Global Foundation based in New Delhi, India on E-waste management and governance in the country.