The Electronic Products Recycling Association is looking for a business in the Clarenville area to become a drop-off point for e-waste. — Photo by Thinkstock
Last week people in the Clarenville/Bonavista/Burin region began paying a special fee for electronics to cover the cost of recycling. But the nearest depot is in Bay Roberts, an hour-and-a-half drive away from Clarenville, and three hours away from Bonavista.
Terry Greene, the regional director of the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA), says he hasn’t yet found a business that wants to become a drop-off point for old electronics in Clarenville.
The EPRA, in partnership with the Multi- Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB), launched an electronic waste recycling program last week, with the opening of 14 depots accepting old electronics such as televisions, computers and audio equipment.
EPRA is a non-profit organization tasked with organizing the collection and transportation of electronic waste from the depots to a recycling plant in eastern Quebec. EPRA delivers this as a service to retailers and manufacturers who are required by the government to contribute to an electronic waste recycling program.
Electronic waste makes up 2,600 tonnes of waste going to landfills in Newfoundland and Labrador, according to the Department of Environment and Conservation. Many products, such as laptop computers and televisions, contain metals such as lead and mercury that are dangerous to the health of animals and humans.
Greene says EPRA has partnered with recycling depots in many communities in the province, but hasn’t been able to come to an agreement with the Green Depot in Clarenville.
“This is a business relationship between us and the Green Depot,” he says. “I’m not prepared to discuss the specifics, but at the moment the interest in being involved with us isn’t there in Clarenville.”
As part of its agreement with government, EPRA is required to have 19 sites operating in the province in the first year of operation. Greene says he wants Clarenville to have one of the five future sites and is looking for a business in the town to have a depot for electronic recycling. He says he anticipates making an agreement within the next two to four weeks with a business to run a depot in this area.
“I’ve polled some of the businesses there to see what interest there is to take this on as a separate line of business,” he says. “I’ve not been successful yet. I’ll be having conversations with the municipality and I also have a couple of business leads ... I’ll be pursuing.”
In order for a business to run a depot, it would have to have be able to accept old electronics from the public, according to Greene, store it securely and abide by health and safety regulations.
The business would have to prepare collected e-waste for shipment by transport truck to Quebec. It would get a small commission per tonne of waste collected, according to Greene.
EPRA pays for recycling by collecting fees charged on the purchase of new electronics. The fees range from 45 cents for an Ipod to $42.50 for a large-screen television. Retailers began collecting the extra fee Aug. 1.
The electronic recycling program is solely run by EPRA, and the government won’t have to put money into the venture.
Tom Hedderson, the minister of environment and conservation, says government merely provided the legislation requiring retailers and manufacturers to contribute to electronic waste disposal.
“It’s an industry-led initiative we’re rubber stamping,” he says. “We provided the legislation. The EPRA, they’re running the show.”
Newfoundland and Labrador is the ninth province to enact such a program. New Brunswick is the last province without a similar program, and it’s on the verge of creating one, according to Hedderson.
The minister says he’s confident EPRA will keep its promise of providing enough depots to service the entire province, including this region.
“People will not travel great distances, and we know that,” he says. “We need to have it within their wheelhouse, so to speak. We’ve been given the assurance we’ll be up and running in most major areas as quickly as possible.”