Narratives of dysfunction and success stories in e-waste recycling in India

, Narratives of dysfunction and success stories in e-waste recycling in India, TheCircularEconomy.comThere is a growing consensus that India is going through a waste crisis, and this awareness unfolds parallel to an increasing awareness of the beyond-human time it takes for plastics to disappear. It is striking that narratives of problems with waste, across different genres, often return to the same figures and figures of speech, the same heaps of numbers and piles of rubbish to give emphasis to the gravity of the affair. These elements reappear as ever more solidifying narratives, the repetitive patterns chalking out narratives of dysfunction that represent the waste crisis. Here I interrogate how such elements, figures of speech from earlier narratives of dysfunctional e-waste management, highlighting the threat of e-waste to the environment, are retooled into stories of success by private business. I do that through the story of a Producers’ Responsibility Organisation (PRO), a Delhi-based start-up I call Sahih Kaam (pseudonym to protect anonymity, meaning right or proper work in Hindi) that I worked closely with during fieldwork. I explore the powerful and influential tropes and imaginaries in action, put into practice by private companies in the pursuit of environmental and social change.

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