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Ontario's Plan to Combat E-waste

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2009-06-25-TGA_logo_Economics.jpg
Years ago technology was built to last. These days new and improved technology is released on a six month cycle and average life spans are significantly less. Somehow we have stepped away from a break-fix mentality towards a break-buy again and again and again. Now that we have technology such as cell phones (which are replaced every 18 to 24 months on average) filling up landfills of their own, responsible recycling of electronics has pushed its way to the top of the environmental issues list.

Due to the fact that cell phones are generally small people think their waste is minimal. However it couldn't be any more opposite from the truth. An average of 130 million cell phones are discarded annually accumulating up to 65,000 tons of non-biodegradable waste. This takes a huge toll on the environment when you also consider the toxic chemicals associated with cell phones, such as copper, lead, nickel, zinc, beryllium, cadmium, and arsenic. All of which have been associated with neurological disorders and cancer. So not only is irresponsible disposal of electronics affecting the environment but it's also adding an economic strain on our health care systems.

Even though Toronto has a number of electronic recycling companies, such as iRecycle, also a Think Green Alliance member, the onus was on the end user to pay for these services and we all know that not everyone's environmental ethics outweigh economic necessity. In order to combat this, the Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) and the Ontario Government worked together to launch the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment program plan (WEEE) under the Waste Diversion Act.

The purpose of the WDA is to promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste and to provide for the development and implementation and operation of waste diversity programs such as the WEEE, which charges a recycling fee to the brand owners, first importers, franchisors, and assemblers. Taking the responsibility a way from the user back to the producer and then using the fees to pay those who are actually recycling the electronics.

Phase 1 of the plan launched on April 1st 2009 includes desktops, laptops, computer peripherals, monitors, printers, fax machines and televisions. The second phase materials such as phones, cameras and audiovisual equipment will launch April 1st 2010.

"It's changing how I run my business, but it's better in the long run" explains Laurent Ho, President of iRecycle. Somehow this fee is going to filter down to the consumer, whether it comes in as an environmental fee, or increased price of the objects the producer is going to find away to cover this cost. However the reason why this program is successful is because it brings the true environmental and economic cost of these electronics forward upon purchase rather than leaving it to the end of its life cycle to consider.

In the middle of economic recession, inflation and or new fees is the last thing any consumer or producer wants to hear about. However on the plus side, the fees aren't that much and at least Ontarians can be proud of the fact that they are provided with a pre-paid recycling service for their retired electronic goods.

Price listing per unit
Desktop Computers $13.44/ unit
Portable Computers $2.14/ unit
Computer Peripherals $0.32/ unit
Mice
Keyboards
Single Hard drives
Optical Drives
Monitors $12.03/ unit
Televisions $10.07/ unit
18" screen and smaller
19" to 29" screen
30" to 45" screen
46" screen and larger
Printing Devices $5.05/ unit

For more information on the WEEE plan please visit http://www.ontarioelectronicstewardship.ca/ .For more information on iRecycle, please visit http://www.thinkgreenalliance.com/index.php/profiles/irecycle-computers and for information on the Jean Jerome Baudry or the Think Green Alliance please contact Rhea Johnson at 416-915-4048 ext 103 or visit www.thinkgreenalliance.com

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