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Cleaning Up Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
EPA collaborates with the United Nations University - Solving the E-waste Problem Initiative (StEP) Exit to jointly address the e-waste problem in developing countries. EPA and StEP signed a cooperative agreement on this topic in November 2010. EPA and StEP are working collaboratively on tracking global flows of e-waste, strengthening Ethiopia's efforts to manage e-waste. EPA is a founding member of StEP and serves on the StEP Steering Committee.
EPA also works bilaterally with governments and environmental officials around the world on e-waste management. EPA and China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection initiated cooperation on this issue in 2010. In addition, EPA and Environmental Protection Administration Taiwan (EPAT) coordinate the International E-Waste Management Network (IEMN), which has brought together environmental officials from Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and North America to exchange best practices on e-waste management since 2011.
- March 2013: EPA joined the StEP E-waste Acadmey for Managers in San Salvador, El Salvador. 17 countries from Latin American and Africa participated.
- December 2013: EPA joined the StEP E-waste Academy for Scientists in Geneva, Switzerland.
- October 2013: EPA chaired the 2013 StEP General Assembly from October 22-24th which took place in Vienna, Austria.
- July 2013: The 3rd annual meeting of the IEMN, organized by USEPA and EPAT, was hosted by CalEPA in Sacramento and USEPA Region 9 in San Francisco. The meeting featured the e-waste management experiences of U.S. states, with a specific focus on California, Minnesota and Oregon.
- May 2013: EPA was recognized for its continued support at a "virtual" StEP General Assembly, with over 65 attendees from across the globe. The next annual in-person StEP General Assembly will take place in October.
- April 2013: EPA, in its capacity as an advisor, joined the government of Ethiopia and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Exit in launching a $1 million GEF e-waste project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia April 17-19.
- April 2013: StEP released two key reports for Ethiopia Exit and China Exit that provide key information on how e-waste is managed in these countries.
Understanding the Problem
EPA’s International E-Waste Efforts
To address the e-waste issue, EPA is developing an integrated program that will provide tools and potential solutions at various points in the process to reduce environmental and health risks. This complements a larger US government task force, co-chaired by EPA, the General Services Administration and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which has developed the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship.
Building Capacity in Developing Countries and Sharing Best Practices
Both China and the United States are engaged in national programs to improve the management of electronic waste, or e-waste. In 2010 on a mission in China, then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson visited e-waste recycling facilities in Guiyu. Following that visit, Administrator Jackson and China’s Minister of Environment Shengxia Zhou agreed to collaborate on the emerging issue of managing e-waste. Since then, EPA, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, and other key stakeholders have collaborated on stakeholder meetings, an online information platform, and research reports related to e-waste management. The initial stakeholder meeting in July 2012 in Beijing was conducted with EPA support and in coordination with STEP, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), and Tsinghua University.
- Learn more about EPA’s Collaboration with China.
International E-Waste Management Network:
Through the International E-Waste Management Network (IEMN), EPA and the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration Taiwan (EPAT) have enabled environmental officials from the governments of Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and North America to exchange best practices for e-waste management since 2011. Through this collaboration, EPA and EPAT also developed the first materials in English that document the details of e-waste management in Taiwan.
The IEMN also enables participants to leverage each other’s expertise to promote dialogue and action on sound e-waste management, as occurred during the International Dialogue on the Environmentally Sound Management of E-Waste for the Latin America-Caribbean region, held in May 2012 in El Salvador.