Electronic Waste in China, Japan, and Vietnam: A Comparative Analysis of Waste Management Strategies

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Abstract

This paper comparatively analyses the e-waste sector in China, Japan, and Vietnam by examining progress towards the international best practice model of Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) within each country. Through three distinct, yet interdependent dimensions of ISWM (stakeholders, waste system elements, and sustainability aspects), similarities and differences between the three East Asian countries are identified. The analysis shows that the e-waste management approaches differ substantially. The Vietnamese e-waste management approach is least consistent with the ISWM framework, while Japan complies the most with the ideals of the model and Chinese progress towards ISWM is mostly located between the two countries. However, a substantial proportion of Japanese e-waste is exported to developing countries in an uncontrolled manner. The analysis further suggests that the state of development and national characteristics have a significant impact on how the three countries approach e-waste management. In particular, the central role of the informal e-waste sectors in China and Vietnam poses a challenge to the establishment of an effective integrated sustainable e-waste management system. In light of the transnational flow of e-waste in the region, only joint actions will lead to long-term solutions to the increasing threat of e-waste to the environment and human health.

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