Recycling has become an everyday part of life for most Canadians, and the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) is making it easier for property managers to dispose of potentially hazardous materials that can be reused.
“We don’t want it to end up in landfills and, more importantly for us, there are lots of valuable resources in them,” says Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) executive director Melanie Wilde. “If we can recapture and redeploy those resources to make new devices, that’s key in our current environment.”
The EPRA operates provincially approved and regulatory-compliant electronics stewardship programs in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario through an outsourcing agreement with OES.
These programs keep more than 100,000 tonnes of EOLE out of landfills each year.
Programs funded through environmental handling fees
Programs are 100-per cent funded by environmental handling fees incorporated into the price of new electronic products. These fees are based on the costs of running EPRA programs and are reviewed and adjusted annually. They totaled $91.16 million in 2013, up from $36.88 million a year earlier.
There are more than 6,400 stewards registered in EPRA programs across the country, with more than 1,340 permanent collection sites and more than 40 verified processors.
The LEED sustainability certification has a requirement for buildings to have a policy in place for managing durable recyclables such as electronics.
The EPRA makes that easier in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba by working directly with property managers to provide free, customized solutions for commercial, institutional and multi-unit residential buildings to help them manage EOLE. It’s hoped that these programs will continue to grow in those three provinces and expand into others.
“We would hope that they would want to have their products responsibly recycled, and we’re offering the service and can enable them,” EPRA executive director of marketing and communications Christy Teasdale says of getting more properties involved. “We run the program on behalf of manufacturers and retailers.”
Some property managers OES works with have a secure bin in their waste collection areas or a designated area of their building where tenants can put their EOLE, and call OES when it’s full so it can be picked up.
“You want to make sure that there isn’t a way for the public at large to be able to get into that bin,” says Wilde. “You wouldn’t want anything to get smashed because there could be substances of concern like mercury inside LCD.”
Wilde says businesses and properties in remote areas and smaller communities where they might not have the same volumes are notified when collectors are going to be in their vicinity and will be asked if they want to be included in a pick-up run.
Safe and secure process
All EOLE that’s picked up is transported in a safe and secure manner to ensure it goes directly to an authorized recycler for responsible processing. The EPRA has created a short video of that process to explain the process.
It’s recommended hard drives are wiped and important data is destroyed before disposing of computers to guarantee no personal or confidential information can be accessed.
Individual homeowners can go to the EPRA website and type in their province and postal code to find the nearest locations to drop off their EOLE. Wilde points out 96 per cent of Ontario’s population is within 10 kilometres of a drop-off location, which can include retail outlets, municipal depots and other secure collection points.
People are encouraged not to leave EOLE lying around and to get it into the system as soon as possible.