Ontario to change how e-waste is processed
year, Canadians spend millions of dollars on the latest electronic devices.
From digital cameras and laptops to video game systems and televisions,
Statistics Canada estimates that in 2004, this figured topped $880 million.
As directed by the Minister of Environment, Phase 1 will cover desktop and notebook computers, peripherals, monitors, printers/ fax machines and televisions. They hope to recover 48% of Phase I e-waste the first year, increasing to 65% by 2013. Phase II will deal with telephones, stereos, PDAs, copiers, radios, speakers and cameras; Phase III will cover other electronics.
Where will the money come from?
Funding for the Plan is likely to be provided by electronics manufacturers and vendors through a new non-profit corporation called Ontario Electronic Stewardship. The total cost is expected to be at least $48 million per year. They may recover the cost through an extra charge when electronics are sold.
If commodity prices stay high, it is also possible that the metal in old electronics could be worth enough to pay for their collection. Many devices contain copper and precious metals such as gold and silver. In a single year, roughly 1,600 tonnes of copper, 35 tonnes of silver, 1.5 tonnes of palladium, and 3.4 tonnes of gold could be recovered by recycling 100 million cell phones. These metals are valuable since they can be easily re-captured and have already been refined. In fact, electronic scrap metals can be cheaper and more valuable than traditional scrap metals found in other products like cars. As a result, mining giant Xstrata PLC has become the world's largest consumer of e-scrap; Teck Cominco is also considering refining e-waste.
How can you reduce e-waste?
The best way to reduce the amount of e-waste is to replace your household high tech electronic gadgets less often. Consider the money you may save by holding onto each gadget a while longer. Chances are that the new plasma television you have your eye on will be better and cheaper next year. Try updating the software and memory on your computer instead of throwing it out. If you do need to get rid of your computer, camera or phone, maybe give it to that cousin, friend or sibling who doesn't have one. Some programs, charities and schools accept donations of used electronics. Check on-line for one near you, or offer it free on Craig's List (but remember to erase all your data first).
For more information about properly disposing your electronic equipment, speak with your municipality or contact the manufacturer.
manufacturer recycling programs:
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