As illegal e-waste trade has been significantly growing over the course of the last few years, the consequences on human health and the environment demand immediate action on the part of the global community. Though it is argued that e-waste flows from developed to developing countries, this subject seems to be more complex than that, with a variety of studies suggesting that income per capita is not the only factor affecting the choice of regions that e-waste is illegally shipped to. How is a country’s economic and social development associated with illegal e-waste trade? Is legislation an important factor? This paper aims at quantifying macroeconomic (per capita income and openness of economy) and social (human development and social progress) aspects, based on qualitative data on illegal e-waste trade routes, by examining the percentage differences in scorings in selected indicators for all known and suspected routes. The results show that illegal e-waste trade occurs from economically and socially developed regions to countries with significantly lower levels of overall development, with few exceptions, which could be attributed to the fact that several countries have loose regulations on e-waste trade, thus deeming them attractive for potential illegal activities.
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