Friday, April 9, 2010

Recycling Electronics as Easy as Taking out the Trash

Computer World Canada
Ontarians have no excuse for tossing old iPods in the trash as a province-wide recycling program doubles its list of devices and drop-off locations. Torontonians get special curbside treatment and free e-waste bags for tired gadgets.

Recycling gadgets like iPods, cell phones and digital cameras just became easier for Ontario residents as a province-wide electronic recycling program led by the Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) moves into Phase 2 of its plan.

Forty-four electronic devices now qualify for the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) program, an industry-developed plan approved by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and funded by electronics manufacturers and importers.

Phase 1, which launched in April 2009, allowed eco-friendly Ontarians to drop-off devices like computers, monitors, printers, disk drives, keyboards, mice, fax machines and TVs for recycling free of charge at 167 locations across the province.

Phase 2, scheduled to launch exactly one year later, extends the list of recyclable electronics to include devices like MP3 players, digital cameras, cell phones, VCRs, DVD players and radios. The number of drop-off sites has more than doubled, to more than 500 locations.

Ontarians who wish to prevent their old electronic equipment from leaking toxic residues and hazardous waste into the environment are encouraged to visit the new site to find their closest OES-approved collection location.

Torontonians are the exception to the rule. Instead of visiting a drop-off site, all residents need to do is take out the trash – and make sure their electronics are placed neatly beside it.

The City of Toronto’s electronics diversion program, which has provided curbside electronics and battery recycling since September 2009, accepts all OES Phase 1 and Phase 2 products. Toronto is the first and only city in Canada to provide curbside electronics recycling to its residents.

Residents can place large electronics items on the ground (smaller items should be placed in a cardboard box) next to their garbage bins on garbage collection days. This spring, the city will provide bags specifically designated for electronics waste free of charge. Specially designated electronic waste collection containers for apartment dwellers are also in the works.

OES announced the details of Phase 2 with City of Toronto Mayor David Miller and Ontario Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen at a launch event on Tuesday at the City of Toronto Reuse Centre, one of the OES-approved locations.

Roughly one-third of all electronic waste (commercial and residential) is currently recycled in Ontario, said Gerretsen. “We want to see that grow over the next five years to at least two-thirds,” he said.