MRO Magazine

New Ontario waste diversion plan for computers and other electronics aims to divert 17,000 tonnes in first year

Toronto, ON - Onatrio's environment ministry has approved a new Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) P...


Environment

July 15, 2008
By MRO Magazine


Industries

Toronto, ON – Onatrio’s environment ministry has approved a new Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Program Plan on July 10, 2008. It will be available to industry, businesses and consumers starting in the spring of 2009.

Sean DeVries, chair of Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), said this new program will fuel growth in the electronics reuse and refurbishment sector, boost recycling and ensure end-of-life information technology and consumer electronics will be managed in an environmentally responsible manner.

The industry-developed plan maps out how programs will be put in place to divert 17,000 new tonnes of computers, monitors, printers, disk drives, keyboards, mice, fax machines and televisions from landfill in the first year. At the end of five years, the target recovery is 75,000 tonnes, which is 60% of available materials. Drop offs will be free to the public.

“Our plan will significantly increase the number of collection locations for WEEE over the next five years to ensure that people in all parts of Ontario have access to convenient collection programs,” said DeVries, who is the environmental manager for Panasonic Canada, Inc.

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OES’s first priority will be to promote the 3Rs hierarchy (reduce, reuse and recycle), encouraging consumers who have electronics that are still useful to take them to reuse and refurbishment organizations. End-of-life electronics that are directed to recycling will be taken to processing facilities that will be required to meet strict environmental, health and safety standards to ensure that these materials won’t find their way into the environment.

Currently, Ontario households and businesses throw out about 90,000 tonnes of old computers, printers and televisions each year. Best estimates suggest that in five years the amount will grow to 123,000 tonnes, which represents about four million desktop computers, 1.5 million portable computers, 1.2 million monitors, 2.2 million TVs and 1.5 million printers.

DeVries said the program “will give both business and consumers the tools to ensure waste electronic equipment is managed properly and that valuable components are recycled into new products, not dumped in landfill sites.”

OES is the not-for-profit organization formed by leading retail, information technology and consumer electronic companies to implement the WEEE plan under the Waste Diversion Act. The plan requires brand owners, first importers and assemblers to pay fees to OES that will be used to operate the program. The obligated companies will pay 100% of the program costs, estimated to be $62 million in year one, for collection, transportation, consolidation, processing, administration, public education, research and development, and continuous improvements in technology and program implementation. The government will not receive any of the fees from OES or from WEEE stewards.

The costs to manufacturers, brand owners or importers of the products work out to about $13 for a desktop computer and $10 for a TV.

Under the requirements of the program, OES will develop a tracking and auditing system for the WEEE materials from the point of collection through to the final destination, including verifying that the processing is managed in an environmentally responsible manner. It will be accountable for program performance and costs to Waste Diversion Ontario, an organization set up by the Minister of the Environment to oversee waste diversion programs in Ontario.

OES estimates that Ontario homes and businesses annually produce 91,000 tonnes of computers, monitors, fax machines, printers and televisions.

Industry’s role includes working directly with reuse and refurbishment organizations, municipalities, retailers, charitable and other non-profit organizations, and with recyclers to increase the public’s access to collection events and depots.

“The brand owners, first importers and assemblers of these products are the first to say that province-wide waste diversion programs are needed to ensure we keep this equipment out of landfill sites. We believe we have the central role in seeing to it that our products are properly managed at their end of life. That includes making sure that recovered equipment isn’t exported to countries where environmental, health and safety standards may be lower than in Ontario,” De Vries said.

“We are proud of this electronics stewardship plan,” he said. “It incorporates best practices that we’ve learned from the programs we’ve already put in place in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Through this plan we are accepting our responsibility as stewards to ensure our products are managed in an environmentally sound manner at the end of their working life.”

Note: OES is an industry organization whose members comprise electrical and electronic equipment brand owners, first importers and assemblers. It was incorporated by Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) as the body to work co-operatively with WDO to develop and implement the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) diversion plan. WDO is the non-crown corporation created under the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 to oversee development, implementation and operation of programs to increase the diversion of materials designated under the Waste Diversion Act including Blue Box recyclables; municipal hazardous or special waste; and electrical and electronic waste.

Backgrounder can be viewed at www.ontarioelectronicstewardship.ca. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program Plan can be viewed at www.ontarioelectronicstewardship.ca/program.html.