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EPA/UNU unveil e-waste accord

Germany / United States – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with the United Nations University (UNU) to help tackle the issue of waste electronics.
A five-year, US$ 2.5 million grant has been earmarked for UNU’s Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) to help authorities track shipments of North American e-waste and to provide support to nations in both Africa and Asia 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.

Objectives of the EPA’s agreement with the UNU include: characterisation of the nature of the flows of used electronics, including routes by which used electronics are leaving the USA 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; 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.

Initial plans call for collaboration with port officials in West Africa and Asia to support the objectives of characterising flows of used electronics and harmonising international information.

Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Vice Rector of the UNU, comments: ‘In learning to manage e-waste, we need to reflect many interconnected 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 … will help developing countries find their own way to globally sound e-waste management.’

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