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Kai Löffelbein
Our Daily E-Waste

We all know that resources are finite. Yet we consume like there' s no tomorrow. In impressive images, photographer Kai Löffelbein documents what happens to the electronic waste we produce.

By Holger Moos

Ctrl-X: a topography of e-waste © Steidl Every day we use digital aids such as smart-phones, tablets, PCs or laptops. The life span of these devices is getting shorter and shorter. The old types of devices that are no longer usable or simply no longer wanted are disposed of without hesitation, but where do they actually end up?

Unacceptable garbage journey

In Ctrl-X. A topography of e-waste, Kai Löffelbein traces the obscure paths of western e-waste and photographs scenes with an almost post-apocalyptic aura: at the waste disposal site of Agbogbloshie in Accra (Ghana), in the waste capital Guiyu in China and in the backyard dumps of New Delhi in India. The waste is illegally sent abroad, saving Western countries expensive recycling processes.
"It all started when I asked myself what actually happened to my own electronic waste. Of course, as a photographer I’m very involved with electronics for professional reasons," says Löffelbein in an interview on Deutschlandfunk Kultur.

The health of others

Löffelbein's photographs forcefully document the miserable and health-endangering living and working conditions under which workers in Africa and Asia, sometimes even children, dismantle electrical appliances in order to extract recyclable raw materials such as copper.
Through his view of this destructive side of digitisation, Löffelbein seeks to provide information. And he wants these conditions to change.
Cherry Picker

Löffelbein, Kai: Ctrl-X. A topography of e-waste
Göttingen: Steidl, 2018. 192 pages.
ISBN: 978-3-86930-970-5