Electronic devices may cost a little bit more from now on as Phase 1 of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) program kicked in across the province today.
The program—run by the Ontario Electronic Stewardship—will see “environmental handling fees” placed on certain electronic products.
In return, 100 percent of the funds will go towards establishing collection sites across the province where people can drop off unwanted electronics free of charge for re-use and recycling “according to North American environmental standards.”
While the fees are meant to be paid to the OES by “brand owners, first importers into Ontario, and assemblers of the electrical products” manufacturers have the option of either absorbing the cost or passing it on to consumers.
That could mean an additional $13.44 for a desktop computer, $2.12 for a portable computer, $0.32 for computer peripherals (i.e., mouse, keyboards, etc.), $12.03 for a monitor, $10.07 for a television, and $5.05 for printers.
“I think the customers will probably be shocked for a little bit because I don’t think too many people are aware of it yet,” said Mark Howarth of Howarth’s Home Centre here, who currently is looking into details of the plan, including the process for becoming one of the sites where people can drop off their old electronics for recycling.
“That’s the first concern—now that they’ve paid the fee, customers are going to want something in return for it, and to try and get rid of old electronics as soon as can be,” Howarth said, adding that with all the new televisions coming over in the next five years, everybody’s going to be replacing their old ones, which means a pile of unwanted electronics to get rid of.
“The government, of course, is trying to come up with a plan to get rid of this stuff properly in the future,” he noted.
While admitting he hasn’t been brought totally up to date with the exact details of the new plan, Jim Hudson of Northland Basics said something definitely needed to be done to address the problem of electronic waste.
“I think it’s a necessity because we have people coming by with computers very often. They don’t know what to do with them,” he remarked.
“We need a place to bring this waste. It’s a problem,” Hudson stressed.
“There’s also a Phase 2 coming in later on in the year, so it doesn’t look like it’s going to go away,” Howarth noted. “So I guess we’re just going to get used to it.
“Hopefully it will go over well,” he added. “Like I said, it will be a little bit of a shock for a little while for the consumers, but I think in the long run it will be good.”
WEEE collection sites will include a mixture of municipalities, retail stores, and community service organizations, but the OES cautions that it will take a few years for the program to fully expand across the province.
Phase 1 of the program, which took effect today (April 1), will see fees applied to, and recycling available for, items like desktop computers, portable computers, mouses, keyboards, disk drives, monitors, televisions, and printers.
Phase two, when implemented, will include materials such as computer “peripherals” like modems, copiers, scanners, typewriters, telephones, cell phones, PDAs, pagers, audio and video players, cameras, radios, speakers, turntables, and video recorders.
The OES estimates that roughly 160,000 tonnes of waste will be diverted from landfills over the next five years because of the program.
As non-profit organization, the OES was formed to implement the WEEE program plan set out by the Waste Diversion Act.