BC launches industry-led E-waste program

Victoria, Canada - The Electronics Stewardship Association of BC has launched their province-wide electronics stewardship program.

Encorp Pacific has been contracted to deliver the new industry-led program, which is built upon enhanced provincial recycling regulations. Encorp will collect and recycle computers, monitors, desktop printers and TVs.

ESABC represents the majority of electronics producers selling products in B.C. although other organizations are also submitting recycling and reuse plans for Ministry of Environment approval. Reuse programs for functional electronics are currently operating independently, but it is government’s intention to encourage closer collaboration between reuse and recycling facilities.

The new e-waste stewardship program will be funded by an industry-set environmental handling charge paid by consumers on the purchase of new electrical and electronic equipment.

The program is based upon the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR), which mandates manufacturers to become involved in reclaiming and recycling their products. The concept has been successfully applied to waste tires and other hazardous materials in the past. Alberta was the first province to establish EPR for electronic waste.

E-waste has become an important issue with the proliferation of cellular phones, television sets, laptops and personal computers that are usually rendered obsolete within two years. Canadians discard over 140,000 tonnes of electronics each year, with products containing hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium, hexavalent chromium, and PVC plastics – all can cause environmental damage and contaminated surface and groundwater.

In Canada, these products create a risk for local communities and the environment, and increase the toxicity of municipal landfills. Worldwide, discarded electronics - at a rate of 20 to 50 million metric tonnes every year - mostly end up in landfills or are illegally exported to developing countries where workers extract any valuable materials at a risk to their health and to the environment.

BC hopes to address these issues with its stewardship plan, while many electronic firms are phasing out the use of dangerous chemicals in their products, and some have already established take-back programs for recycling.

Information on ESABC’s program, such as collection points and depots where consumers can return designated products without charge, can be found at www.encorpinc.com/electronics.

B.C.’s electronic product stewardship plan can be found at www.recycling.gov.bc.ca.

For More Information: Government of British Columbia

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