Measuring Ontario's success at recycling e-waste By Michael Scott

TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - Michael Scott is CEO of Waste Diversion Ontario (, which oversees Ontario's recycling programs for electrical and electronic equipment, used tires, Blue Box material, and household hazardous waste. As part of its oversight role, WDO monitors program sustainability, effectiveness and efficiency.

With oversight from Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO), Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), a not-for-profit industry organization, operates and pays for the recycling of electronic equipment, including computers and flat screen TVs, collected from across Ontario. This program is now into its fourth year of operation.

Last year, OES collected 75,702 tonnes of old electronic equipment, more commonly known as "e-waste".

It's hard to put 75,702 tonnes into perspective unless we compare it to something that everybody understands. For example, 75,702 tonnes is the equivalent of about 2.8 million televisions, or 605 million cell phones. It's also the weight of over 25,750 empty Zamboni ice resurfacing machines.

So far, this sounds like quite a feat. But how do we compare with other jurisdictions?

In mid-February, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced that in 2012, Texans turned in more than 43.8 million pounds of electronics for recycling. That's equal to 19,867 tonnes.

Consider that the current population of Texas is 26.1 million, compared to Ontario's population of 13.5 million. This means that Ontario, with about half the number of people, was able to collect almost four times more e-waste in 2012 than Texas!

If we dig deeper into Texas electronics recycling, we discover that one reason for their much lower results is that Texas is also far behind Ontario when it comes to the variety of electronics covered under current programs. In Texas, computer monitors, desktop computers, laptops, keyboards and mice are collected by computer manufacturers, who also "voluntarily" collect televisions and other electronics. Although Texas is working on it, there isn't a program in place yet that would make it mandatory for television manufacturers that sell in Texas to collect and recycle television equipment. Meanwhile, in Ontario, e-waste accepted for collection includes 44 different items ranging from cell phones, cameras and radios to computers, televisions and copiers.

In addition to a greater range of accepted items, Ontarians are also offered more options for dropping off their e-waste. A network of almost 700 OES-approved collection points and affiliated sites operates throughout Ontario across the municipal, non-profit and retail sectors. Eighty-five percent of Ontarians live within 25 km of an OES collection site or event. Back in Texas, people have only one option: to turn in their electronics directly to computer manufacturers.

The success of Ontario's e-waste program is about much more than just the volume of electronics diverted from landfill. It's also about helping our communities. In 2011, OES paid over $1 million in collection fees as fundraising dollars to over 80 not-for-profit and community organizations for important local causes.

If you're wondering how Ontario is doing on a more global scale, in 2012 alone, 5.61 kg/capita of e-waste was collected in Ontario, exceeding the European Union standard of 4 kg/capita. (The weight of 5.61 kg is equal to about 12.4 pounds, the size of a large Easter ham.) We've come a long way in only one year - in 2011, we collected 3.96 kg/capita of e-waste.

Our oversight role at Waste Diversion Ontario includes enhancing public awareness of and participation in waste diversion programs. Next time you consider how to dispose of your old electrical and electronic equipment, we encourage you to help us build on our successes and take advantage of our convenient program operated by OES. Enter your postal code here to find out exactly where to take your e-waste in Ontario.

SOURCE: Waste Diversion Ontario

For further information:

Media Contact: Julie Kwiecinski, Communications Advisor, WDO,  416-226-3252,

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