Despite growing interest and concern surrounding transboundary movements of used electronics around the world, there is a dearth of data. Although a multitude of different data sources exist, coherent sets of information on used electronics and theirmovement are lacking because of inherent challenges in obtaining such information. Inspite of these challenges, a characterization of the sources, destinations, and quantities of used electronics flows would inform strategic decision-making of numerous stakeholders.Collaboration between academic and research institutions, industry and non-profit organizations, government agencies, and international organizations can help to addressthe challenges associated with collecting data on used electronics transboundarymovements. A workshop was held on June 21, 2011 at the United States EnvironmentalProtection Agency in Washington, DC as a first step towards meeting this need. Theobjective of this workshop was to bring these stakeholders together to assess existing work characterizing transboundary flows of used electronics all over the world and to chart apath forward for collaborative data collection and characterization efforts. The ultimategoal is to bring a scientific and balanced perspective to the issue of transboundary flows of used electronics.The primary desired outcome from the meeting was that the group would develop avision for a roadmap to characterize the transboundary flow of used electronics using acollaborative approach. The vision is long-term: the characterization of these flows willcontinuously evolve over time in order to track the dynamic nature of the system.Stakeholders from academic and research institutions, industry and non-profit organizations, and US government agencies participated in the workshop. The focus of thediscussion was on export flows from the United States, although data and methods fromother regions were discussed as well. The workshop was organized by the MaterialsSystems Laboratory (MSL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and theNational Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) under the umbrella of Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) Initiative, with financial support from the United StatesEnvironmental Protection Agency (US EPA).The workshop began with a discussion about regional and product scope followedby presentations and discussions on existing methods for qualitative and quantitativecharacterizations of transboundary flows. The afternoon activities revolved aroundbreakout groups developing priorities for collaborative data collection and further export flow characterizations. The breakout groups presented the outcomes from theirdiscussions to the entire group and then the group selected a prioritized set of activities.This report summarizes the content in the presentations and the outcomes from theworkshop while providing further detail on numerous topics.
Considering that “used electronics” can include a wid
e range of products, the scopeof products under consideration was defined first. The broad scope was limited to usedconsumer electronics and information technology (IT). While European directives haveincluded large electrical appliances in the scope of their programs, in the United Statesthese items are typically managed separately and are not the focus of investigations into