The Initiative: Our 5 Principles

1. StEP's work is founded on scientific assessments and incorporates a comprehensive view of the social, environmental and economic aspects of e-waste.

2. StEP conducts research on the entire life cycle of electrical and electronic equipment and their corresponding global supply, process and material flows.

3. StEP's research and pilot-projects are meant to contribute to the solution of e-waste problems.

4. StEP condemns all illegal activities related to e-waste including illegal shipments and re-use / recycling practices that are harmful to the environment and human health.

5. StEP seeks to foster safe and eco- and energy-efficient re-use and recycling practices around the globe in a socially responsible manner.


E-waste - An Underestimated Environmental Problem

Every day a vast number of electrical and electronic devices end up as waste; some of them ready for scrap, others just obsolete. All this is gradually mounting up to a serious environmental problem, which has so far failed to attract the public interest.

There was a need for analysis and dialogue from a neutral, scientific-based standpoint in order to find solutions which reduce environmental risk and enhance development. This is why we began developing the StEP Initiative in late 2004 which has grown to a 50+ member initiative today with members coming from industry, international organizations, governments, NGOs, academia etc.

Our prime objectives are:

  • Optimize the life cycle of electrical and electronic equipment by

    • Removing toxins and substances that become toxic toenvironments in backyard recycling (e.g. PVC in wire-cabling)
    • Enhancing re-use, such as labeling systems on parts
    • Enhancing the recyclability of materials in end-of-life-electronics
  • Increase utilization of resources and promote re-use of equipment
  • Exercising concern about disparities such as the digital divide between the industrializing and industrialized countries
  • Increase public, scientific and business knowledge

The steps that led to StEP

The intensive examination of the interrelation between electronic devices, especially computers and the environment at United Nations University (UNU) led to a book project, which was published under the title "Computers and the Environment" in 2003.
While working on the book, many more questions concerning this subject matter were identified. Therefore, the topic was expanded from computers to a more broad field encompassing all electrical and electronic equipment – the book led to the development of an international initiative:
The Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) Initiative. Important Co-Founders of the StEP Initiative were Klaus Hieronymi (Hewlett-Packard), Ruediger Kuehr and Eric Williams (UNU) and Axel Schneider (PT PLUS).

Click here to see the organizational structure and the actors of StEP.


Taskforces: Policy I ReDesign I ReUse I ReCycle I Capacity Building

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