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Solving the E-waste Problem

StEP 2010 General Assembly Held in London

Recently more than 45 StEP Members traveled to London to participate in the 2010 Solving the E-waste Problem Initiative (StEP) General Assembly. The venue and facilities were hosted and provided by fellow StEP Member Cisco Systems at their UK Headquarters just outside of London.

Participants at the StEP General Assembly in London. Photo: Charuek Hengrasmee

The StEP Members present at this year’s General Assembly voted in two new StEP Members – Renewable Recyclers, a social enterprise in Australia aiming to create jobs in Australia through re-use and recycling of (waste) electrical and electronic equipment; and the Nigeria based Basel Convention Coordinating Centre For Training and Technology Transfer For the African Region (BCCC-Africa), the first and oldest Basel Convention Regional Centre. Additionally a Memorandum of Understanding was accepted between StEP and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), an international initiative that aims to achieve sustainability objectives through innovative technology.

The General Assembly also elected the new Steering Committee for the 2011/2012 term. The new members include Stephanie Adrian (US-EPA), Jean CoxKearns (Dell), Per Doefnaes (Ericsson), Christian Hagelueken (Umicore), Jinhui Li (Basel Convention Regional Centre in China), Guido Sonnemann (UNEP) and Rolf Widmer (Empa). Ruediger Kuehr, heading UNU-ISP SCYCLE, is an ex-officio member.

StEP is organized in five Task Forces (TF) – Policy, ReDesign, ReUse, ReCycle and Capacity Building and Knowledge Management. Each Task Force is devoted to research and conducts and facilitates concrete projects that contribute to StEP’s overall objectives.

  • TF Policy agreed to develop a Green Paper based on the final report of Best E-waste Policies, a project aiming to develop a comparative analysis on various national policies and legislation in order to make sound recommendations on “best” e-waste policies. The Task Force will also continue with laying down the framework for a White Paper on (e)-waste definitions. The plenum also agreed to identify potential scopes and a subsequent Way Forward for the TF Policy EEE & Climate Change project whose overarching aim is to identify the link between climate change and e-waste and consequently develop potential mitigation strategies.
  • TF ReUse will be striving to incorporate the results of Re-Evaluate project into overarching StEP activities, potentially serving as a transfer model for other countries or projects. The chief objective of the Re-Evaluate project is to assess the viability of re-use in Ireland and how re-use could be practically integrated in the waste management hierarchy. A Subgroup on Re-use Best Practices was formed and will further expand the project outline by analyzing re-use case studies and identifying common success factors and best practices in re-use operations. Yet another Subgroup on Transboundary Shipments was agreed and will continue developing a StEP position on transboundary shipments to developing countries.
  • TF ReCycle will finalize a White Paper on Recycling Standards before the end of the year which will provide guidance and recommendations to stakeholders on the development of effective and efficient electronics end-of-life standards. Additionally the Best of 2 Worlds project, investigating the eco-efficiency of the manual dismantling of e-waste in China with control over environmental fractions, has revitalized its work and is currently identifying potential implementing partners in China and Hong Kong.
  • TF Capacity Building and Knowledge Management reflected on the overwhelming success of the NVMP-StEP E-waste Summer School series and agreed to continue brainstorming on a potential new summer school concept, possibly involving small and medium-sized enterprises or ministry officials in developing countries. StEP Members proposed various ways to integrate the Summer School alumni and involve them in StEP activities by adding them to the Newsletter distribution list, link their research to specific project activities and providing them with access to the StEP File Gallery. A Subgroup was established to further develop the Recycling Trainer Online proposal, an online capacity building tool offering much potential, especially in the developing world.

The 2011 StEP General Assembly will take place on 24-26 May 2011 in Alexandria, Egypt and will be hosted by fellow StEP Member and Regional Focal Point for Northern Africa, Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE).