E-waste: End-of-Life Electronic Equipment

 

What is E-waste?

Electronic waste (or e-waste) includes computers, entertainment electronics, mobile phones and other items that have reached the end of their useful life.

Back to Top

E-waste in BC

BC’s Return-It Electronics program is a province-wide, industry-led E.P.R. recycling program for end-of-life electronics. It is available to all consumers and businesses in British Columbia. The program was created in response to an amendment to the provincial Recycling Regulation in February 2006 which called for the electronics industry to take responsibility for the lifecycle management of their products.

In August 2007 the first phase of the program was launched and residents of BC could drop off TVs and computers at designated collection sites without charge, and be assured that the materials would be recycled responsibly through reputable Canadian industries. Phase two of the electronics program launched in July 2010, expanding the list of acceptable electronics to include stereos, VCRs, cameras, telephones and other personal electronics. A full list of accepted materials can be found here.

The first phase successfully diverted more than 4,200 metric tonnes of electronic waste from landfills in its first two years, and is currently averaging 1200+ metric tonnes of diversion per month. 

Phase three, which began in October 2011, included small appliances, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. The fourth and final phase, launched in July 2012, saw the program expand to include large appliances, tools, electronic toys and sporting equipment, medical devices, automatic dispensers and industrial and institutional lighting.

For information on e-waste recycling and disposal options, contact the Recycling Council of BC Hotline

Phone: 604-732-9253 (Lower Mainland)
Toll Free: 1-800-667-4321 (rest of BC)

Back to Top

Who Handles E-waste in BC?

Electronic waste is regulated by the Recycling Regulation from the Ministry of Environment. Electronic and electrical waste is a broad category encompassing a variety of materials, from computers and TVs to fluorescent lighting, thermostats and smoke detectors. As a result, there are a number of groups involved in making sure all of these materials are safely recycled.

Organization

Program Name

Materials Accepted

Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) Return-It

Personal use electronics: computers, TVs, stereos, VCRs, cameras, mp3 players, etc.

Encorp Pacific (Canada)

Return-It

Personal use electronics: computers, TVs, stereos, VCRs, cameras, mp3 players, etc.

Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association

ElectroRecycle

Small appliances: kitchen-top, personal care, floor care, air care.

 

HRAI

Thermostat Recovery Program

Thermostats

 

ReGeneration

LightRecycle

Residential and Commercial light tubes, bulbs, and fixtures

 

ReGeneration

AlarmRecycle Smoke and CO detectors

 

The Outdoor Power Equipment

Institute of Canada

OPEIC Outdoor Electrical Power Equipment

 

Call2Recycle

Call2Recycle Batteries and cell phones

Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA)

Recycle My Cell Cell phones and accessories
   

Back to Top

E-Waste Frequently Asked Questions:

Back to Top

E-Waste Recycling: what’s really going on?

Electronic equipment contains lead, mercury, cadmium fire-retardant chemicals and arsenic. These materials are a hazard to human health and to the environment. Diverting e-waste from landfills and ensuring they are properly recycled is essential to protecting our environment. Despite the importance of e-waste recycling, it has been a controversial topic in British Columbia since 2005, when the RCMP seized over 500,000 kg of e-waste being illegally shipped to developing countries from the Port of Vancouver. The exporters were attempting to exploit low environmental and employment standards of developing countries to gain increased profit.

Beyond the ethical problems of this practice, exporting hazardous waste to non-OECD countries is prohibited in Canada by The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations (originally The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste Regulations). These Regulations were introduced in response to the United Nations Basel Convention, adopted in 1989 and amended in 1994.

Despite Canada’s regulations, exportation continued illegally, particularly in port cities like Vancouver. In at attempt to curb this illegal activity, the BC Ministry of Environment amended the Recycling Regulation in 2006 to include electronic and electrical waste. Two stewardship agencies, Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) and Western Canada Computer Industry Association (WCCIA), were approved to develop and administer recycling programs. The programs began in 2007 and included home televisions, computers, and computer peripherals.

The programs were successful, with high diversion rates and enthusiastic participation from residents. However, in 2008, CBC’s The National aired a segment titled “E-Waste Dumping Ground,” revealing that a recycling company registered with WCCIA was illegally exporting electronic waste. The WCCIA stewardship plan was eventually rescinded and is no longer in effect. Regardless, distrust persisted amongst the general public.

Now EPRA handles all personal and household electronic devices, including televisions, computers, stereos, DVD players, VCRs, cameras, landline telephones and answering machines, mp3 players, headsets, docking speakers, and many more.  For a complete list of accepted products, visit the Encorp Pacific website. EPRA currently uses five North American processors, four of which are within B.C. All recyclers processing program materials are audited according to Electronic Product Stewardship Canada’s (EPSC) Environmental Recycling Standard (ERS). EPRA must participate in an audit annually; the final report must be submitted to the Ministry of Environment and published publically online.  Although e-waste recycling had a shaky start, B.C. residents can have confidence in the EPRA Electronics Return-It program.

Back to Top

Links

Government
Environmental Protection Division
Product Stewardship Electronics and Electrical Product Category 
Environment Canada - National Office of Pollution Prevention

Industry Associations
Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA)
Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association (CESA):
Canadian Hardware and Housewares Manufacturers Association (CHHMA):
Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA):
 
Multi-Sectoral
National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative 

Manufacturer's Recycling Programs
Canon's Environmental Programs:
HP Hardware Return and Recycling Services:
IBM Asset Recovery Solutions
Lexmark Equipment Collection Program
Sony Eco-Innovation 

Back to Top

Retailer Take-back Programs

Future Shop
Best Buy
London Drugs Green Deal 
Ikea 
Staples 

Back to Top

Articles and Publications:

  1. Expansion of the current electronics product category. BC Ministry of Environment.
  2. Design for the Environment Report. Electronics Product Stewardship Canada. 2011.
  3. Recycler Qualification Program. Electronics Product Stewardship Canada. 2010. 
  4. Waste Reduction Week Tip of the Day: Electronics. Recycling Council of British Columbia. October 2010.
  5. ESABC Annual Report. Electronics Stewardship Association of BC. 2009.
  6. Timeline of Canada’s E-waste Policies. Heather Amos for The Thunderbird, University of British  Columbia. November 2008.
  7. British Columbia Stewardship Plan for End-of-Life Electronics. Electronics Product Stewardship Canada. October 2006.
  8. EPS Canada's Plan for Addressing E-waste in Canada. Electronics Product Stewardship Canada. June 2004
  9. E-Waste Fact Sheet. Recycling Council of British Columbia. February 2004.
  10. Consumer Electronic Products Stewardship: Research and Demonstration Project Report. Electronics Product Stewardship Organization of Manitoba. August 2003
  11. RCBC, Local Government Action on E-Waste (62KB pdf). RECAP, July 2002
  12. Summary and speaker presentation notes. Waste Electronics Stewardship Forum. March 5, 2002 
  13. Toxic and Hazardous Materials in Electronics. Prepared for Environment Canada by Five Winds International, LP. October 2001.
  14. From Ground Zero, Taking Aim at Electronic Wastes. Karen Asp. Reiterate, Recycling Council o of British Columbia. Fall 2001.
  15. Towards Waste-Free Electrical and Electronic Equipment. Prepared by Elena Lymberidi for the European Environmental Bureau. March 2001
  16. Information Technology and Telecommunication Waste in Canada. Prepared for Environment Canada by EnvirosRIS. October 2000
  17. Extended Producer Responsibility in Cleaner Production: Policy Principle to Promote Environmental Improvements of Product Systems. Lindhqvist,Thomas for Lund University. 2000.

Back to Top