Canada’s electronic recycling options expand

Forgotten computers that once lived out their twilight years in basements may soon have a new purpose thanks to a pair of electronics recycling initiatives.

International mining and metals company Noranda Inc. said Wednesday

that it will extend its electronics recycling operations to Canada.

The company will open a Brampton, Ont.-based facility expected to process approximately one million pounds of end-of-life electronics a month. The facility is expected to be operational by summer 2003, said Noranda recycling plant manager Cindy Thomas.

The facility will be quite similar to plants the company operates in the United States, Thomas said. Noranda runs two electronic waste recycling facilities in the U.S., one in Roseville, Calif. and one in Nashville, Tenn.

The Roseville facility was built in strategic partnership with Hewlett-Packard, in 1996 in order to take in end-of-life electronics, de-manufacture them, shred them, put them into their component materials and recycle 100 per cent of those materials.

Canadian companies don’t have many options available for environmentally sound recycling of electronics, Thomas said. One is storing them in basements or garages. It’s also still legal to throw electronics products into landfills where they have the potential to leach out metals into the ground. The third option is to export them offshore to developing countries, primarily China. Those countries do not typically have the capabilities to dispose of the waste in an environmentally sound manner, she said.

Noranda’s annoucement comes one day after the launch of Electronics Product Stewardship Canada; a not-for-profit organization created by members of Canada’s electronics and IT industries. The newly formed organization will seek to create a national policy on recycling electronic waste, said EPS Canada president David Betts.

The goal is to invent a recycling system that is environmentally and economically responsible, Betts said. The organization aims to use the provinces’ existing recycling infrastructure.

“”EPS Canada would arrange to have a collection bin put at municipal sites and when the (recycling) material shows up, the municipality would put it in that bin and then we would take it away and dispose of it,”” he said.

The money to fund the program would be raised by a recycling fee that would be added at the point of purchase, Betts says. A portion of the retail price of a new electronics product would then a fee associated with the proper environmental disposal of the material at the end of its life.

Betts admitted that the project, still very much in the exploration and planning stage, is a tough one because of the vast number of players involved. Coming up with a national policy is also a difficult sell because recycling has up to now al

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