Criminal Negligence?

Discard Studies

By Josh Lepawsky, Joshua Goldstein, and Yvan Schulz

UNEP Waste Crime reportOn 12 May 2015 the United Nations Environmental Program announced the release of a new report called Waste Crime – Waste Risks. Among the topics covered by the report is the global problem of discarded electronics or ‘e-waste’. After reading the report with a focus on the sections pertinent to our research interests, we feel compelled as scholars to highlight serious shortcomings of the report. For convenience, we identify three types of such shortcomings of claims made in the report:

  1. Those that are falsifiable on their own terms.
  2. Those that are founded on weak or non-existent evidence.
  3. Those that are built on self-referential foundations of weak evidence.

In most instances, these three types of shortcomings operate together. Taken together they are, in our assessment, evidence of “corner-cutting techniques” (Rekdal, 2014: 1) that detach statements from their original sources and, in so…

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