Old electronics have a way of invading our homes. They collect dust in our basements and garages. They become a nuisance.
Every time a customer purchases an electronic device in B.C. they also pay an environmental handling fee. These fees vary depending on the electronics – a levy for a computer is $5.50, laptop $1.50, printer or fax machine $6.50, for a television the cost can be up to $31.75 even ipod and computer mouses, cameras and satellite receivers are hit with the fee. Many consumers don’t mind paying the fee because they know their old electronics, when they have outlived their use, will be shipped for recycling, but in Princeton such is not the case.
Most old electronics in Princeton are hauled to the landfill. There is no recycle location for them. In fact, land fill users are charged a disposal fee to deposit their old electronics there. Neither the landfill operator, Ross Ferguson, nor Bill Vowles at The Hut, who both participate in various recycling programs provided through Encorp have been able to find a way to bring an electronic recycling program to Princeton.
“The electronics recycling program is administered by Encorp Pacific,” stated Vowles. “They are the stewards of the program.” Vowles applied for the program three years ago and still has been unable to offer the program to Princeton residents. “We have been told we don’t have the volume here to have the program,” stated Vowles. “We might be a low volume centre, but we are still paying for that service. Every time we purchase any electronics, there is a recycling fee attached. The Source, Home Hardware and Sears all sell electronics and yet we don’t have a program. Encorp is not offering it to us.”
Bill and his wife Anne have been running a recycling depot for years. “We should have the electronic recycling service available to us,” Vowles continued. “We have the storage and we already have the Encorp contracts. There is an Encorp truck here every week and we get asked every day by residents if we recycle electronics here. The truck is already coming through town and stopping here. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Vowles doesn’t believe many Princeton residents will be bothered to haul their old electronics out of town for recycle either. “It just isn’t realistic to think everybody is going to haul their old used stuff out of town,” he said. “Why can’t we add onto the trucks already here. Every TV has mercury in it as do computer monitors. Contaminating the environment more should be everyone’s last desire including Encorps. Electronics more than likely are buried at our landfill right now and this could be easily changed.”
The city of Quesnel and Cranbrook have challenged Encorp’s policies. “Why are people paying for a program they don’t have access to?” Vowles asked. “We are not the only community wanting answers to that question.”
There is an electronic recycling depot in West Kelowna and much of the Princeton recycling is going there already. It makes sense to many that adding in a weekly electronics haul along with the other recyclables is a no-brainer. “It shouldn’t matter if there are just a few electronics being recycled each week,” said Vowles.
Vowles feels that the recycling process could be made better. “My understanding was when this electronics recycling program came in that it would be an add on to all depots, but it hasn’t turned out that way. “If a truck is going to a recycle centre anyway that does handle old electronics why are we not being included in that process.”
Sandy Sigmund, Chief Marketing Officer for Encorp did confirm that much of what their Encorp trucks pick up at the various recycling centres is dropped off at numerous consolidation sites. Aluminum cans go to five different locations before eventually being shipped to Barea, Kentucky for final processing.
“Plastic jugs are baled together, washed, shredded and eventually made into pellets,” said Sigmund. “Aluminum cans are recycled and back on the shelves within six weeks. Glass is made into fibreglass insulation and old electronics go to several different facilities.”
“We have requirements that a recycle centre must meet to become an electronics recycling depot,” stated Sigmund.
For now, Sigmund encourages recyclers to go online to their site to find a location drop off nearest to them or watch for Drop Off Events. “We had one in Princeton at the Princeton Arena on June 11, 2011,” stated Sigmund.
Vowles want to find a way to give Princeton their own drop off location and are not ready to give up just yet. Quesnel stared legal action to get a centre there and now they have one.,” stated Bill.
“Everyone in Princeton is paying this environmental levy ever time they buy electronics, but yet Princeton is not getting any money for an electronic recycle depot. We need to find a way to change that.”