Ontario responds to program criticism

Ontario responds to program criticism

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Ontario residents turned in over 82,000 tons of electronics for recycling in 2012, according to new numbers from Ontario Electronic Stewardship executive director Jonathan Spencer, rebutting criticism of the program.

Data from OES shows that year-over-year, e-scrap recycling was up 45 percent in Ontario in 2012. Additionally, the data shows that the cost of the program has decreased from $1,842.99 (Canadian dollars, which is roughly equivalent to U.S. dollars at writing) per ton of material in 2010, to $1,217.60 per ton in 2012.

"Ontario residents and businesses have set the bar high when assessing safe and responsible electronics recycling in Canada. We know that eight in 10 are very concerned about the proper disposal of electronic waste, and the province benefits greatly from their ongoing commitment to e-waste diversion," read a statement from Spencer. "Our commitment to deliver an effective, efficient and convenient program that keeps pace with demand is strengthened by the momentum demonstrated by Ontarians."

OES has faced a repeated criticism of its electronics recycling program — particularly for the "eco fees" collected during the purchase of some new items to fund recycling. A recent editorial column in the Toronto Star cited Sims Recycling Solutions Canada president Cindy Coutts in criticizing alleged export of collected materials to China. According to the column, Coutts witnessed workers burning plastic to recover metals at a facility that partners with an OES processor. The editorial also alleges that other processors in Ontario are afraid to speak up regarding the use of unauthorized downstream processors out of fear of reprisal.

In a separate column, Spencer dismissed the allegations as unsubstantiated, saying "Safe recycling doesn't mean taking a hammer to them. Our approved processors meet rigorous environmental and health and safety standards, and they have to carefully remove each component and dispose of them separately."

OES says its electronics recycling program is "regulated to rigorous environmental standards" and that approved processors are all verified through Canada's Electronic Products Recycling Association's Recycler Qualification Office.

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