Global Value Chains of the E-Waste Industry: A Study on Global Value Chain Upgrading for Latin American Waste Management Firms

Eloise Jeannine Alomaine Steen & Gerardo Jose Lopez Rodriguez

Student thesis: Master thesis


Electronic waste management in developing countries has gained increasing significance for the global circular economy, due in large part, to the potential environmental impact of electronic wastes. Latin American firms have experienced the advantages of exploiting business opportunities from valuable waste materials, however, the market is overshadowed by informalities and illegal practices that affect workers, the local environment and the overall value of the industry. This research is founded on Global Value Chain theory, which serves as a decision tool for upgrading strategies. The methodology uses a case study of the Latin American based firm BG Metal Trade, to explore the realities of the industry in the region. Key findings from the research show that demand for electronic equipment is growing in the developed world, contradicting the evidence of e-waste solely moving from developed to underdeveloped countries; yet, this trading shifts are only leveraged by market conditions, which is why high levels of informality occur. Further, we suggests that LAC firms must focus on process or functional upgrading to remain competitive, but should also engage in multistakeholder paths of upgrading to provide solutions to the global e-waste problem, where the profitdriven perspective is adjusted to sustainable goals.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages127
SupervisorsPeter Gammeltoft