I thought readers might enjoy this short article by Patrick Hebert of Thriftopia — an Ontario organization that recycles e-waste. His point about economic incentives would apply to programs in jursidictions other than Ontario.
Ontario’s E-Waste Program – What’s In It For You?
Posted by Patrick Hebert under: thriftopia.com
The Ontario Electronic Stewardship plan is a lengthy document which details a system to assist the province in diverting up to 60% of e-waste from landfills for proper recycling and disposal.
Great notion – but one question remains unanswered – what’s in it for the public? In a time of ever rising fuel costs, the authors of the plan assume that the public will flock to depots to drop off their obsolete technology.
For those who are forward thinking & green minded, this assumption may prove to be correct – however as with other statistics, these people are only a portion of the bell curve of society. For those who care greatly about Earth-friendly initiatives, there are equal numbers of those who don’t. And then, there is the average person who given a convenient option may or may not choose to participate in ecological efforts.
What’s lacking in the OES plan – and all other provincial e-waste diversion initiatives – is consideration of “What’s In It For Me” from the consumer’s perspective. Nowhere in the plan is there consideration for the consumer’s gasoline, time, or labour in moving heavy and awkward items to places for proper disposal.
Also missing from the plan are details about who will police solid waste sent to transfer stations, who will intercept and separate e-waste from other forms of trash, and what such labour would cost.
Of course, one should not criticize if they are unwilling or unable to suggest an alternative. Finding a better program is well within reach though – a trip to The Beer Store reveals how passionate consumers are about participating in recycling programs – when there’s something to be gained.
By collecting a $0.10 bottle deposit, Brewer’s Retail has been able to collect and reuse 99% of industry standard beer bottles 12 to 15 times each. And they’ve been able to collect and transport 100,000 tonnes of beer packaging each year from over 17,500 establishments. Surely, if Ontario beer consumers will make the trip to The Beer Store to get $2.40 back per case of beer, there is something to be learned and applied to the e-waste crisis.
While e-waste is certainly more sophisticated and concerning than simple beer bottles, the principle of deposit and refund is not something that should be ignored.
Proposed “Advance Disposal Fees” charged on the sale of new technology vary from $2 to $13 depending on the component but there is still no incentive for consumers to comply with the program once the fee is paid. Without convenient collection or adequate incentives, this may just be another “Sin Tax.”
By increasing the proposed fees to encompass a deposit & refund program, the 60% target could not only be achieved but likely surpassed.
The notion is not entirely new – Sims Metals California operations now pay $0.05 per pound to California residents who recycle TVs and computer monitors.