Environmental policy instruments use-design for improving E-waste management in Bangladesh
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‘Electronic Waste’ or ‘E-waste’ management is a growing concern in Bangladesh, as the toxic components of E-waste have a severe effect on health and the environment. The existing policies for managing such environmental problems are largely based on regulatory measures ignoring the economic and ethical dimensions. With this view, the central objective of this study is to propose a policy package combining regulatory, economic, and persuasive measures. Together they are denoted as Environmental Policy Instruments (EPI). For doing so, the research has been conducted in two phases. In the first phase, the study investigates the current E-waste situation in Bangladesh concerning (i) E-waste generation, collection, and disposal practices; (ii) the condition of workers engaged in E-waste recycling; (iii) consumer and public awareness on E-waste management; and (iv) the existing legal framework for its management. In the second phase, an EPI use-design is proposed to improve the E-waste management practices. In doing so, E-waste generators' feedback has been considered. The main database of the study, compiled through an online survey, includes information on E-device usage, its disposal, and consumer awareness. Secondary sources were the basis of compiling information on E-waste generation, recycling, condition of workers involved in E-waste recycling, and their corresponding legal framework in the country. Findings of the study include that only 11.1% of the consumers dispose of their discarded Edevice as waste, of which only 23% of E-waste is appropriately processed for recycling, and the rest is disposed of by either burning or dumping on the ground. Despite E-waste management being a highly hazardous occupation, the wage of the laborers in the E-waste recycling industry in Bangladesh is extremely low (3,000 taka a month). The awareness and concern among the consumers on E-waste generation, its effect on nature and life, and the importance of its sustainable management are limited regardless of respondents’ education or profession. Concerning the legal framework, the study finds that the existing policies regarding E-waste management are largely based on environmental Acts and other regulatory frameworks. Although a guideline for E-waste management has been drafted, no exclusive guideline or policy for E-waste management is currently in practice in Bangladesh. Finally, a target-specific EPI use-design is presented comprising (i) regulatory instruments (regulation, supervision, identification) to control the generation, recycling of E-waste, and ensure labor rights and safety, (ii) economic instruments (pollution tax, recognition, investment) to discourage the cheap and hazardous methods of recycling, disposal, and encourage research and development to transform E-waste recycling industry into a profitable business opportunity, and (iii) persuasive instruments (social engagement, awareness campaign, curriculum reform) to raise awareness of E-waste stakeholders on the importance and ways and means of its sustainable management.