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E-waste program having an effect



Although there were some concerns over the way the B.C. government’s e-waste collection program was implemented in August — namely over the lack of communication with retailers and the public over details of the plan — it’s already being hailed as a success.

Under the plan, consumers are now charged a levy at the time of purchase that covers the cost of collecting and dismantling electronics for recycling or safe disposal. In less than four months the province has diverted approximately 1.8 million kilograms of electronic waste, including 10,000 televisions, 60,000 computer monitors, 20,000 computer systems, and 30,000 printers.

The Electronics Stewardship Association of B.C. and the Western Canada Computer Industry Association represent most companies that manufacture or sell electronics in the province, and are responsible for converting the waste once it has been collected. They also ensure that companies that recycle the waste follow regulations, rather than exporting the waste to developing countries for salvage.

Electronic waste contains toxic materials like lead, cadmium, and mercury, and close to 100 per cent of components can be recycled, included metals, plastics, and materials like silicon.

In Whistler, most home e-waste is accepted at the Re-Use-It Centre. That includes items like computers and televisions, but not appliances.

With the addition of e-waste, B.C. now has industry programs to dispose of paint, oil, beverage containers, tires, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, gasoline, solvents and flammable liquids. Two more product categories will be announced in 2008.