Ontario has launched a new recycling initiative designed to capitalize on the success of Canada’s most popular deposit-return system: The Beer Store. Only, there’s no beer for sale here.
The stand-alone depot, called Recycling Plus, opened in Toronto’s west end February 15, 2013 with the support of partners Stewardship Ontario and Sims Recycling Solutions Canada. Designed as an empties drop-off for restaurants and licensees who need to return hundreds of alcohol containers at one time, the depot also aims to step into the world of recycling for paint, batteries and electronics.
But while licensees get back hundreds of dollars for beer and wine returns, bringing back an old computer worth thousands of dollars will mean you leave without a dime, at least for now, explained Cindy Coutts, president of Sims Recycling Solutions Canada.
“We want to draw electronics out of the basement,” Coutts told EcoLog News. “If there are economic incentives, it’s going to be much more successful.”
As it stands, Coutts says her company intends to monitor the progress of Recycling Plus over the next few months. She says consideration for economic incentives will be given to charitable organizations that may collect a large batch of computer hard drives. In terms of individual returns, Recycling Plus remains without a clear plan going forward.
Industry, especially in the U.S., is seeing a move towards financial incentives for the return of unwanted and outdated consumer electronics. The world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, is now giving customers financial credit for sending the retailer cell phones and other electronic devices. Whether they were initially purchased through Amazon doesn’t matter. The customer is given a financial credit (depending on the device) towards their next Amazon purchase.
Ontario-based environmental lawyer David McRobert says he encourages Recycling Plus to wade further into deposit-return territory if it wants to become truly convenient and successful at the same time, instead of replicating struggling material return programs at retail stores such as Home Depot and Staples.
“The Beer Store is looking for a way to reinvent itself,” McRobert told EcoLog News. “Why not do it for aluminum [soft drink] cans too?”
In terms of electronics, McRobert says he can see The Beer Store and Sims making substantial profits by charging companies who want the electronic waste. He says allowing consumers to recover some funds would be a huge incentive for people to cart out large, old electronics collecting dust in people’s homes.
The Beer Store President, Ted Moroz, was on hand for the opening of Recycling Plus, currently a pilot project to gauge whether the depot concept could expand into other Ontario cities. Moroz spoke about the tremendous success of The Beer Store’s return rates, including 94 per cent for beer bottles, 91 per cent for alcohol containers, and 81 per cent for wine and spirits bottles, the latter being a relatively new venture after collaborating with the LCBO in 2006.
“Hopefully, it’s very popular,” Moroz said of the Recycling Plus depot located at 299 Campbell Avenue. "We were eager to use our expertise to allow for increased waste diversion in other industries, while at the same time making it more convenient for our customers to return their empties. I would like to acknowledge our staff who is already engaged in our successful reuse and recycling programs and were eager to embrace the pilot project."
The Beer Store diverts nearly 500,000 metric tonnes of materials from landfills each year, Moroz says.
For materials such as paint, batteries and electronics to match the recovery rates for beer bottles would be a feat, but Coutts says the depot intends to try. For 2013 alone, she says, Sims Recycling Solutions Canada is on track to divert 75,000 tonnes of electronics waste from landfills.
Recycling Plus is set to be open seven days a week. Stewardship Ontario will manage the safe processing of batteries, paints, stains and coatings through its Orange Drop program.
Moroz says The Beer Store staff is trained to not take any hazardous materials that may fall outside Recycling Plus collection categories.
RECYCLING PLUS GUIDELINES:
Recycling Plus accepts paints and coatings (in containers 20 litres or smaller), including:
Interior and exterior house paints: latex, alkyd, enamelUndercoaters, primers, metal and rust paintsStains, urethane, polyurethane, varnish sealers for wood and concrete, roof and driveway sealers.
Types of paints and coatings NOT accepted: Automotive paint, marine paint and aerosols.
Accepted batteries include single-use dry cell batteries (i.e., non-rechargeable batteries) such as alkaline manganese, lithium, silver oxide, zinc-air and zinc-carbon batteries.
Types of Electronic Waste accepted:
TV CRT, TV flat screen monitor CRT, monitor flat screen, computer - desktop, computer - laptop, server, printer, cell phone, keyboards, speakers, cables, scanners, typewriters, telephones and answering machine, scanners and printers, video players and recorders, amps, receivers and radios (partial list).
Electronic materials NOT accepted (partial list) include:
- Smoke detectors, medical electronics, electronics containing ozone depleting substances (such as air conditioners).