Objective Vulnerabilities in workers performing electronics recycling (e-recycling) in the informal sector worldwide have been well documented. However, the growing electronics waste industry formal sector still brings many challenges to protect the health of workers and their environment, even in high income countries. This presentation aims to draw attention to the overlooked vulnerabilities faced by the workers of the e-recycling industry in high-income countries and to discuss the potential impact on health inequalities experienced by these workers.
Methods We performed a review of the peer-reviewed and gray literature in the e-recycling industry.
Results Workers in the e-recycling formal sector often come from sectors of society known to be more susceptible to exposures and health effects, such as young workers, immigrants or ethnic minorities, prisoners, and workers with mental or physical disabilities.
Discussion This phenomenon in high-income countries is not restricted to the e-recycling industry alone. It is rather a symptom of more generalized macro socio-economical phenomena of challenges in line with the new gig economy and changes in the global market, and their consequences on the solid waste sector. Continued efforts to strengthen the inclusion of social aspects of health into the complex interaction of the structural vulnerabilities met by e-recycling workers will be essential to anticipate and prevent health issues in this essential but still emerging workforce, not only in high-income countries but also worldwide.
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