Sustainable transition of electronic products through waste policy

Erik Hagelskjær Lauridsen, Ulrik Jørgensen

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    The European Union's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive makes a challenging case for transition theory and its different aspects, as it represents an ongoing and still open-ended case. At present the objectives of the directive are not met: the amount of electronic waste is increasing, and the resulting waste is poorly managed. With its starting point in the multi-level perspective of transition theory, this case study analyzes how the outcome of the WEEE directive is constituted in the interplay between the somewhat detached regimes of electronics and waste management. The two regimes are described and analyzed together with the underlying regulatory principle of extended producer responsibility, which has guided the design of the directive. Conflicting interpretations of sustainability, in combination with a simplistic understanding and agency introduced from the top-down, has eliminated waste minimization as the main outcome of the directive. The concluding discussions raise the issues of the role of sustainable niche initiatives in electronics compared to multi-regime interaction. Guiding visions may need to be supplemented with other alignment devices in order to support co-evolution of regimes and coherent actions within transition processes.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalResearch Policy
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)486-494
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • Extended Producer Responsibility
    • WEEE directive
    • Sustainable transition
    • Multiple regimes
    • Waste

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