Saturday, November 21, 2009

Do What You Can.Ca

I've been looking for a site that directs people to reputable e-recycling companies in Ontario. I'm really excited because I just found one. The site is called and it's great because you can search by type of waste, postal code or community. It lists only those collection sites that are certified by the Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), the industry funded organization that ensures that goods are handled in a secure and environmentally sound manner. This may seem strange that I'm recommending a site that is funded by the industry, but the OES works in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment and Waste Diversion Ontario to uphold the Waste Diversion Act introduced in 2002. Allow me to explain further.

If you've ever recycled old electronics in the past you probably remember how expensive it was to do so. It can be a real deterrent for most people when they're asked to pay up to 30% of the original cost of the electronic device. This April, 2009, a really exciting program was launched in Ontario: Phase 1 of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Program plan. This program now allows you to take your old devices and drop them off at the designated locations (see for FREE!

There has been a gradual shift of responsibility onto brand owners to ensure the proper disposal of their products [1]. Brand owners, first importers, franchisers, and assemblers currently need to pay fees that go towards the WEEE Program. The OES, which proposed and operates the WEEE program, has already received approval for Phases 1 and 2 of the program from the Minister of the Environment [2]. The main difference between the two phases lies in the list of products that are accepted for disposal. If you click this link you can review a list of the products that qualify under Phases 1 and 2. You'll notice that Phase 1 only includes a small proportion of WEEE products. The program is being implemented in stages to allow for adequate collection and recycling infrastructure to develop. Also this will allow the OES to evaluate the program performance prior to launching Phase 2 [3]. At first I was disappointed by this protracted implementation plan, but I actually think it makes a lot of sense. At the very least I'm hoping this allowance for infrastructure development has avoided or reduced the temptation to ship e-waste overseas due to overwhelming amounts. Recycling depots would be inundated with e-waste if all of the electronics destined for landfills were diverted to them. Overseas shipment of e-waste would be an even more tempting solution, especially if industry was paying for their products to "disappear".

Personally, I would still ask the collection agent where the items are recycled to ensure that the products are indeed being recycled locally. I recommend asking the collection agents for details first and if they don't know I would contact the Electronics Product Stewardship Canada or the Ontario Electronic Stewardship.


  1. REally helpful, explains the $7 fee they charged when we bought a new TV! Are any NGOs involved in this too?

  2. It looks as if this program is still getting underway... I'm curious - what happens with this stuff now if you take it to a designated drop-off? I.e., if I take my TV to a City of Toronto Environment Day, or if the City picks up my electronics on their designated electronics pick-up day, what happens to them?

    As a follow-up question, is there any information about the amount of this stuff that ends up in Canadian landfills, and what kinds of health risks are associated with landfilling e-waste in a modern North American-style landfill?