Draft regulations would require electronics manufacturers to finance the collection and recycling of e-scrap in the Canadian province of New Brunswick.
The province’s Environment and Local Government department is seeking public comment on the regulations. New Brunswick, with a population of 754,000 people, would be the last of Canada’s Atlantic provinces to implement extended producer responsibility for electronics.
“Consumers will be very happy to get that program up and running,” said Pat McCarthy, CEO of Recycle New Brunswick, the governmental body overseeing EPR for paint, tires, oil and glycol. “We get phone calls every day from the general public on where to take their electronics. Half an hour ago I was sitting here and I got a phone call, and I got two this morning. People want to do the right thing. They want to recycle it.”
The Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) is also pleased to see the province move forward developing a program, said Gerard MacLellan, an executive director at the EPRA. The industry-funded group, which manages e-scrap collection and recycling programs in several Canadian provinces, plans to submit a plan in New Brunswick as well.
“We see it as a pretty positive step forward,” MacLellan said.
Under the regulations, manufacturers would have to register and submit a plan to Recycle New Brunswick. The plan would have to include everything from take-back locations and outreach plans to information on how the material is handled and what the company is doing to design for reusability and recyclability. Manufacturers could pass their costs on to consumers by setting fees, and they could inform consumers about those fees, according to the regulations.
EPRA’s fees vary depending on the product and province. In Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, as examples, $2.25 is added to the cost of a desktop computer, while $35 is added to the cost of a TV larger than 46 inches.
Under the regulations, collection targets would be proposed by the industry and approved by Recycle New Brunswick. In considering targets, “obviously what we’re going to do is look at what the targets are for other provinces,” said McCarthy, who noted targets have been difficult to meet elsewhere.
Some programs have struggled to meet weight targets set years in advance because of previously unanticipated advances in product lightweighting.
New Brunswick may present a challenge for collections because about half of its residents live in rural areas. The draft regulations call for manufacturers to detail their plans for collections in those remote and rural areas.
Currently, recycling options in the province include a limited number of nonprofit and for-profit organizations accepting scrap for reuse and recycling.
“What this e-waste program will do will give everybody in the province access to recycling,” McCarthy said. “Everybody will be treated equal and have equal access.”
The deadline for comments on the regulations is July 31, 2015. Collections of electronics could begin in fall 2016.