Parts of the province have no electronics recycling, even though they’re paying for it
Anyone from Bonavista, Burin and Clarenville who purchased electronics between August 2013 and now has paid for a service they can’t get in their area.
In August, retailers began charging an electronics handling fee on all electronics sold in the province, from $0.45 for an MP3 player to $42.50 for a 29-inch television. The fees cover the cost of safe and environmentally friendly disposal of the devices at the end of their lives.
Terry Greene, provincial executive director of the Electronic Products Recycling Association, holds items his organization is trying to dispose of safely. — Submitted photo
Disposal depots are operating in 21 locations across the province, but the closest one to Clarenville is in Glovertown, over an hour’s drive away, and there are no depots on the Bonavista or Burin peninsulas, or on the south coast.
Terry Greene, provincial executive director of the Electronics Product Recycling Association (EPRA), the organization that runs the program, says he’s had difficulty finding businesses that want to take on the job of collecting, storing and preparing old electronics for shipment.
Greene said the location would require warehouse space, a loading ramp for a forklift or pallet jack.
“And they’d need to have a customer service component where they receive materials from the public and ship it to us,” he said.
A tentative deal with a business in Clarenville fell through after the company decided it didn’t have the equipment to do to the job. EPRA pays a fee per tonne to the companies that act as depots and provides shipping materials.
Greene says it’s a way for companies to supplement their income and become good corporate citizens by helping divert hazardous waste from landfills. Electronics often contain heavy metals such as lead and mercury that are toxic to humans and animals.
“We’re talking about a large number of heavier (metals) that would just sit in the landfill, without any deterioration or breakdown,” says Greene.
“We have the capacity to reuse material, so once it goes through our processing centre, most of the material is usable and built into new products. So, at the end of the day, most of the plastics, metals and glass is put into new products,” Greene said.
Greene says he’s been polling local chambers of commerce, municipalities and personal contacts in the area to find a company that wants to partner with EPRA. He’s optimistic an agreement is coming soon.
In Burin, he’s looking at a partnership with the Town of Marystown where electronics are diverted from the landfill.
“I certainly understand people’s frustration in terms of not having the capacity to have their material collected close to their worksite or living area,” says Greene. “That’s been a concern for me since we established this program.”
The provincial government estimates that people produce 2,600 tonnes of electronic waste every year in Newfoundland and Labrador.