New e-waste program a good start, says recycling advocate

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Daniel MacEachern
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Leigh Puddester

An electronics recycling advocate says the province’s new program is a good start.

The government on Friday announced amendments to waste management regulations to provide an industry-led electronics recycling program.

Leigh Puddester, chairman and chief executive officer of the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board, the Crown agency charged with managing the province’s waste-diversion and recycling programs, said Friday that 90 per cent of electronics can be recycled, but almost all of it in Newfoundland and Labrador — an estimated 2,600 tonnes — ends up in landfills.

The new program for e-waste — computers, MP3 players and televisions, for example — takes an “extended producer responsibility” approach. Electronics manufacturers will be required to provide a plan for their products from the day they are made through to their recycling, putting on the onus on industry to run programs to collect unwanted products. It’s also designed to force manufacturers to think of better designs to make products more environmentally friendly, either by making them last longer or using less-harmful materials.

Matthew Della Valle, founder of the not-for-profit Technology For People Group, said Wednesday the program has been a long time coming. His main concern is whether manufacturers will add hidden fees to product prices to pay for recycling programs.

“The manufacturers are going to have to find a way that they’re going to end up having to pay to have this stuff dealt with,” said Della Valle, whose organization refurbishs old computers. “My concern is that there will be a point-of-sale levy when you go in to purchase the product. It’ll be like an environmental fee or something like that involved with it, because that seems to be the case.” Della Valle added manufacturers should be upfront about whatever fees are added to products.

“If they are going to have some fee that will be transferred to the consumer in the way of a hidden cost when they purchase the product, the consumer should know that’s in there,” he said.

Overall, though, said Della Valle said making manufacturers take responsibility is a good way to handle e-waste.

“I think it will encourage them to look for better ways to create products that are more easily recyclable, to have less toxins in them, to contain less harmful products,” he said. “It’ll make it a lot easier, for when it comes to end of life, that there won’t be so much byproduct even from the recycling.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Multi-Materials Stewardship Board, Crown agency, People Group

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • P F Murphy
    November 11, 2012 - 07:08

    So where do I bring my stuff tomorrow? To the dump? Sorry MMSB, this story sounds like just more compost itself!

  • Jack
    November 09, 2012 - 08:52

    The e-waste recycling fees are just another tax grab as previous levies have not worked. For example, while Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are now paying beverage and tire levies, none of the revenue raised went to recycling or even curb side recycling programs, which is why I don't trust their new e-waste program. Therefore, I hope no e-waste levies will be imposed as they will not be used as intended. The reason for this assumption is that history proves it.