May 10, 2004

Alberta to establish first provincial E-waste recycling scheme

October 1, 2004 has been set for the official start of Alberta's electronic waste (E-waste) recycling program. It will be the first formal provincial program of its type in Canada. Electronics will be a designated material under Alberta's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, and televisions, computers and related equipment currently going into Alberta's landfills will be collected, re-used, recycled and turned into new products.

Management of this waste stream is a growing challenge for businesses, residents and communities. A recent survey found that 98% of Alberta households own at least one television, and 72% own computer equipment. Alberta Environment figures indicate that in 2004, more than 190,000 televisions and 90,000 desktop computers will be discarded from households across the province.

Proper management of these electronics products will divert them from landfills and prevent their hazardous material components, such as lead and mercury, from posing environmental and health risks through potential soil or groundwater contamination. Moreover, the metals, glass and plastic in these used products can be recycled into valuable products, including the next generation of electronics.

In the initial phase of the program, televisions, computer monitors, CPUs (including keyboards, cables etc), laptops, electronic notebooks and printers will be accepted for recycling. Cell phones, stereos, VCRs, DVD players, electronic games and fax machines are not currently eligible for recycling, but may be included in the program at a later date. The program will include electronics purchased prior to the program's inception.

An environmental fee, ranging from $5 to $45 depending on the item, will be placed on each product included in the program. The fee will cover the costs of collection, transportation and recycling of electronics material, education and awareness programs and electronics recycling related research. Collection will be co-ordinated through locally run depots and drop-off points across the province.

"Albertans have been leaders in recycling and environmental programs like this since 1972 when Alberta introduced Canada's first provincial recycling program for beverage containers," said Environment Minister Lorne Taylor. "This program will just enable them - no matter where they live in Alberta - to be make sure their old and used electronics are a resource, not a risk, to future generations."

A non-profit organization - the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) - will manage the province-wide recycling program on behalf of Albertans. The province's existing tire recycling program will be consolidated into ARMA in order to gain greater efficiencies in managing the recycling system across the province. ARMA will manage the recycling programs through two separate divisions, Tire Recycling Alberta and Electronics Recycling Alberta. Over time, ARMA may be expanded to include recycling programs for other materials including paint and hazardous household waste.

The E-recycling program is part of the province's strategy for reducing the annual per-capita quantity of waste going to landfills from the current level of 750 kilograms per person to 500 kilograms by 2010.

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