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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.
- August 2014: Release of National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship accomplishments report at a media event at USPS Headquarters by federal agency leaders from EPA, CEQ and GSA.
- July 2014: The 4th annual meeting of the IEMN was co-hosted by USEPA, EPAT and the Vietnam Environment Administration in Hanoi, Vietnam. The meeting featured training on Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of E-Waste adapted from materials developed by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC).
- May 2014: EPA co-chaired the 2014 StEP General Assembly from May 20-22 which took place in Bonn, Germany.
- March 2014: EPA joined the StEP E-waste Academy for Managers in San Salvador, El Salvador attended by government officials and recyclers. 17 countries from Latin American and Africa participated.
- December 2013: EPA joined the StEP E-waste Academy for Scientists in Geneva, Switzerland.
- December 2013: Step, MIT and NCER release a report entitled, “Quantitative Characterization of Domestic and Transboundary Flows of Used Electronics”, (PDF) Exit(121 pp, 1.9 M, About PDF) which looked at trade data to shed some light on US exports.
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.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency