By Melissa Jenkins
Special to TC Media— Bay Roberts
Jordan is about to begin his first semester at Memorial University.
His parents bought him a new tablet with a built-in camera as a gift for getting into his chosen program — engineering — which requires him to have the most up-to-date computer system. It will replace his previous computer, a five-year-old desktop.
The older computer was slow and no longer suitable for everyday use.
Jordan couldn’t find anyone willing to take it off his hands so he decided to throw it in the trash, along with all the power cords and his old webcam.
This fictitious account is an example of how some 2,600 tonnes of electronic waste ends up in the landfills of Newfoundland and Labrador every year.
The Multi-Materials Stewardship Board (MMSB) has partnered with Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) to launch a provincewide, eco-friendly initiative Thursday that will see a wide range of electronic products being accepted by recycling depots, including radios, desktop and laptop computers, camcorders and televisions.
Newfoundland and Labrador is the ninth province to implement such a program, leaving New Brunswick as the final province without end-of-life electronic recycling, also known as e-waste. Two provinces, Ontario and Alberta, have their own independent recycling programs while EPRA manages the other seven.
In November 2012 the provincial government made amendments to the waste management regulations to include an “industry-led electronics recycling plan.” This amendment will see stricter guidelines for electronics and will hopefully prevent improper disposal of such devices.
The EPRA is responsible for ensuring manufacturers, retailers, provincial and municipal governments and consumers know the proper guidelines for disposal and recycling of electronics in the most efficient and responsible manner, said Cliff Hacking, chief executive officer for the organization. It will also be required to divert these items from landfills.
Just like with vehicle tires, the province does not have facilities to recycle e-waste so everything collected must be shipped to Quebec for proper dismantling and recycling.
The costs associated with the process will be covered by the EPRA, but its funds come from environmental handling fees applied when an electronic device is purchased.
When Newfoundlanders or Labradorians purchase a new television or computer, they will be pay a fee, which can range from 45 cents for items such as cellphones or personal cameras to $42.50 for large televisions or display monitors.
EPRA officials said the fees are calculated based on the actual cost to recycle each product.
“We are not-for-profit so we do not make money off these fees,” Green noted. “We need to charge them to cover the cost of program implementation and the collection and transportation of goods to the recycling facility. In this case it will be Quebec.”
A need for the program
This program is the second extended producer responsibility program. The first was a paint recycling program, which launched May 2012. Officials with the MMSB hope to implement more in the coming years.
The minister responsible for the MMSB, Tom Hedderson, said the paint program was the first big initiative to help the province reduce its waste production by 50 per cent, a goal expected to be reached by 2020, but it was only the beginning. He hopes the new program will continue this trend.
Hacking said a survey was done to gauge the interest in the program and 90 per cent of provincial respondents agreed it should be implemented.
“We are hoping to have up to 19 depots opened by the end of this year,” said Terry Green, EPRA program director for the province.
After Aug. 1 residents of Newfoundland and Labrador will not have to do what Jordan was going to do — throw away their old electronics. Rather they can help divert waste from the overflowing landfills in the province by taking them to the approved location nearest them.
There will be 14 recycling depots across the province being used as drop-off centres for 13 different municipalities. They include Bay Roberts, Carbonear, Mount Pearl, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Port aux Basques, St. Anthony, Port aux Choix, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Wabush and two locations in St. John’s.