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EPA Awards Grant to Help Reduce E-waste / Furthers agency commitment to responsible electronic stewardship

Release Date: 05/02/2011
Contact Information: Larry Jackson (News Media Only), Jackson.Larry@epa.gov, 202-564-0236, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a grant to the United Nations University (UNU) to help curb rising pollution and health problems associated with discarded electronics. The five-year, $2.5 million grant to UNU’s Institute for Sustainability and Peace will help authorities track shipments of North American electronic waste and provide support to nations in both Africa and Asia coping with e-waste imports, such as end-of-life computers, TVs, and cell phones.

“The electronics that improve our everyday lives often end up discarded in developing countries where improper disposal can threaten the health of local people and the environment,” said Michelle DePass, assistant administrator for EPA”s Office of International and Tribal Affairs. “EPA recognizes this urgent concern and is committed to working with domestic and international partners, such as UN University’s StEP Initiative, to address these issues.”

The grant to UNU is part of a larger EPA-led effort to address electronic waste that includes building capacity in developing countries to stop illegal importation, as well as collecting and disseminating best practices for e-waste recycling, reuse, and refurbishment. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made the issue a top priority for the agency, and has affirmed EPA’s commitment in visits to e-waste handling facilities in Africa and China.

As part of a life-cycle program to reduce environmental and health risks, EPA will collaborate with members of the UNU-led StEP (Solving the E-Waste Problem) on ways to improve the production, recycling and final disposal of electronic products. Objectives under the grant with UNU include:

Assessing the routes by which used electronics leave the country and developing better ways to measure the amount of waste.

Coordinating international efforts, including research, tracking, data collection, analysis and information sharing.

Creating science-based pilot and demonstration projects for e-waste refurbishment and disposal.

    Developing environmentally sound e-waste management practices and addressing border enforcement issues related to illegal e-waste shipments.

    More information on EPA’s E-waste efforts:
    http://www.epa.gov/international/toxics/ewaste.html