Recyclers pay the price for Ontario's toxic e-waste
Ontario residents who send old cellphones, laptops and other toxic electronics to the dump won't face fines or penalties anytime soon, the province says.
Meanwhile, responsible consumers who recycle are the ones paying.
John Steele, a spokesman with Ontario's Ministry of the Environment, said it could be months or much longer before Waste Diversion Ontario, the provincial agency in charge of diverting waste from landfills, comes up with a new plan for electronic waste recycling.
That means even though electronic waste is banned from landfills in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, in Ontario the responsibility to dispose of that waste properly is left up to consumers.
Recycling TV can cost $100
Bo Brodie, who runs an Ottawa-based computer recycling company, said electronics are full of hazardous substances that should be kept out of landfills.
"Lead, mercury in laptops.… Anything that's back-lit has trace amounts of mercury,cellphones for example," said Brodie, founder and president of Computer Recyclers Inc.
It can cost responsible consumers up to $100 tohire a company likeComputer Recyclersto recycle abig television, Brodie said.
The cheaper option— whichoftencosts nothing upfront— is to throw the toxic components in the trash.
Jay Illingworth, vice-president of an electronics industry-funded group that helped bring in new regulations in other provinces, said Ontario needs to make things fairer for consumers who do the right thing.
"You need a regulation to make sure there's that level playing field ... with fines and penalties for not complying … because at the end of the day, everyone has to participate to make it work."
Sask. charges recycling fee
Illingworth's group is Electronics Products Stewardship Canada, whose founding members include companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sony.
It helped start a program in Saskatchewan that has collected more than 10,000 electronics in the past few months. The province now also charges consumers a recycling fee when they buy a new product that is used to pay for the product's recycling at the end of its life. The fee ranges from $5 for a laptop to $45 for a big-screen TV.
Illingworth said Ontario needs to specify in a letter which products are to be recycled and other details before it can launch a similar program.
"We're still in a waiting stage for that one," he said.