Dozens more products from telephones and toasters to stereos and sewing machines are going to be added to B.C.’s electronic waste recycling system over the next three years.
Virtually anything that has a cord or a battery will also be returnable to an e-waste recycling depot as part of a two-stage expansion of the existing program that first launched with a focus on computers and TVs in the summer of 2007.
The computers and peripherals covered under the existing e-waste rules are banned from local dumps and buyers of new equipment pay an added recycling fee to cover the costs of the system.
Joyce Thayer, representing the Electronic Stewardship Association of B.C., says similar fees will be tacked on to purchases of the new products.
“It’s a wide range of products,” she said. “It’s going to go into things like VCRs, DVD players, stereo equipment, video cameras and digital cameras.”
They’ll be accepted at the existing 93 e-waste depots around the province.
But the new rules are expected to also sweep up many other manufacturers and retailers not currently covered.
That’s because many of the listed products such as coffee grinders, electric shavers and power tools are electrical but not electronic.
It’s not yet clear how those firms will join the system.
The first stage of the expansion, covering mainly household devices and appliances, will take effect in July of 2010, with another swath of primarily larger appliances and machines to be added in July of 2012.
Thayer said B.C.’s existing e-waste system has collected more than 12,000 tonnes of TVs, computers and related peripherals so far.
“We’re taking more than 1,000 tonnes a month,” she said. “It’s amazing in just over a year we are the second most successful program in North America.”
Manufacturers have been surprised by the number of products they’ll also be required to recycle under the expanded system.
But Zero Waste Vancouver spokesperson Helen Spiegelman is disappointed companies will only be required to take back the products, not the packaging they came in.
“This means that all the styrofoam, bubble wrap, plastic, and cardboard that come in the new equipment you buy to replace the old one has nowhere to go,” she said.
Recycling Council of B.C. spokesperson Mairi Welman didn’t expect packaging to be included at this point.
Instead, the council is urging Victoria set up an extended producer responsibility program to cover all packaging.
That could start out with soaps, cleaners and detergents, Welman said, because a small number of brand owners are involved, making the system easier to establish.
She applauded the move to expand e-waste collection.
“It’s great,” Welman said. “And it’s good that it’s being done in stages to give industry a chance to build up to it.”
The e-waste recycling system aims to keep electronics out of local landfills or from being exported overseas to be salvaged by impoverished workers in dangerous conditions.
Audits ensure products collected are responsibly recycled.
For more info and locations of Return-It electronic waste depots, see www.encorp.ca/electronics
For a list of products that will be covered, see www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/recycling/electronics/info.htm.