Thriftopia.com, a small Canadian company employing people with disabilities to recycle e-waste free of charge for residents of Barrie, Ontario, faces extinction at the hands of Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), according to the company. OES is a government supported “puppet” group — says Thriftopia — controlled by Panasonic, Sony, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, HP, HBC, and Dell who want to control the e-waste market in the province. The company’s concerns are shared by other existing recyclers.
The Thriftopia news release states:
With four people hired through Careers for Inclusion, a company focused on unlocking employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, Thriftopia.com is hardly a major employer in Ontario. Of course, providing free computer recycling services to their community north of Toronto makes them very unique also.
Their plight is not unique however. In response to a letter sent by the Minister of the Environment in 2004, the Ontario government has been working with Ontario Electronic Stewardship — a non-profit group electronic equipment manufacturers, retailers and importers in Ontario — to develop a plan to deal with Waste Electronics and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) disposal.
What has resulted is a 286 page document that promotes a monopolistic scheme to control the flow of WEEE through a selective tendering system which ignores existing legitimate collectors and processors of e-waste. Similar to the oil and petroleum oligopoly that exists in Ontario to control pricing, it is the aim of OES to control costs and eliminate the responsibility that retailers and manufacturers have in ensuring that their products are disposed of at their end of life.
OES is controlled by Panasonic, Sony, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, HP, HBC, and Dell, a group that is responsible for a significant portion of the 157,000 tonne per year e-waste problem in Ontario.
While Thriftopia.com is proud to be a part of the solution to the e-waste problem, having diverted 12 tonnes in their first year of operation, OES will pick and choose who can and cannot process e-waste and intends to dwindle the number of recyclers in Ontario from 50 to as low as five.
What’s worse, OES wants municipalities to burden the collection and processing of WEEE, rather than allowing existing private enterprise, a sector in Ontario employing in excess of 1,000 people, to continue to grow and prosper.
The selection process that OES has outlined is also of particular concern. It will eliminate jobs, kill businesses such as Thriftopia.com, and is simply unfair. While an organization may spend thousands of dollars to qualify for consideration under the OES plan, few will be approved and those that aren’t will be left to die.
What should have been a plan to help increase the 27 per cent diversion rate that has been achieved through the existing legitimate e-waste processors and collectors in Ontario appears to be more about collusion and corruption between our government and multinational corporations.
Thriftopia.com ltd. is the pioneer in responsible computer afterlife management. A social enterprise built on the triple bottom line philosophy, Thriftopia.com is committed to improving tomorrow by keeping resources working to benefit all people and the planet, while turning a profit. The company’s market includes consumers and businesses ranging from home-based small enterprises to Fortune 500 companies including STAPLES Business Depot, Casino Rama and The Simcoe County District School Board. Headquartered in Barrie, Ontario, Thriftopia.com offers free computer recycling, computer removal, responsible computer afterlife management planning and guaranteed total data destruction services and has plans to expand its offering through contract services and franchise collection centers.
More information is available at www.thriftopia.com