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UNU research project on tracking e-waste flows

United States/Germany – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided a five-year US$ 2.5 million grant to the United Nations University (UNU) for a research project to help the authorities to track shipments of North American e-waste and to provide support to nations in both Africa and Asia for coping with e-waste imports.

The EPA will collaborate on ways to improve the production, recycling and final disposal of electronic products with members of the UNU-led StEP (Solving the E-Waste Problem) initiative, which is based in Bonn, Germany. Public and private sector members include the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, as well as non-governmental organisations.

Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Vice Rector of the UNU, comments: ‘In learning to manage e-waste, we need to reflect many inter-connected socio-economic and environmental factors, such as the impact of today’s economic crisis and digital-divide issues, and to promote closed-loop, resource-circular societies. These co-operation development activities, led by UNU co-founded StEP, will help developing countries find their own way to globally sound e-waste management.’

Objectives under the five-year agreement with the UNU include:


* Characterisation of the nature of the flows of used electronics, including routes by which used electronics are leaving the country, and an assessment of methodologies that may be used to quantify the amounts;


* Harmonisation of international efforts, including research, tracking, data collection, analysis and information sharing;


* Science-based pilot and demonstration projects for e-waste refurbishment and disposal;


* Environmentally sound e-waste management and addressing at borders enforcement issues related to illegal e-waste shipments; and


* Fostering international co-operation to ensure highest recycling efficiency and appropriate treatment of critical components in e-waste processed in both developing countries and economies in transition.

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