Alternative framings of transnational waste flows: reflections based on the Egypt-China PET plastic trade

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Abstract

Through a discussion of Egypt–China trade in PET plastic, this paper seeks to show how contemporary recycling economies do not all conform to North–South directionalities, nor to the other assumptions about agency, vulnerability and environmental damage that inhere in the ‘neo-colonial geographies of inequality’ paradigm. In so doing, it seeks to contribute to developing more optimistic and nuanced alternative framings of global waste flows. The paper follows a two-part structure. The first half provides background on the author’s research methods, the recycling business in Egypt and its ties to China before further outlining the paradigm the paper seeks to nuance, particularly as it has been developed through and applied to e-waste case studies and entrenched in the principal legal instrument governing transboundary waste flows, the Basel Convention. The second half of the paper, after some conceptual notes outlining and locating the author’s approach to the market in the literature, attempts to provide a few details of the Egypt–China PET market from fieldwork, focusing on two price-shaping/making processes: market fluctuations during the global economic crisis in 2008/09 and the quality standards criteria applied by Chinese buyers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-30
Number of pages7
JournalArea
Volume47
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Keywords

  • Egypt
  • ethnographic methods
  • e-waste
  • recycling
  • price making
  • Zabbaleen

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