Ex­pand­ing ac­cess to the third R

More elec­tron­ics to be ac­cepted for re­cy­cling

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - COMING UP - MICHAEL JOEL-HANSEN

Saskatchewan res­i­dents will be able to recycle more of their old elec­tron­ics come spring.

In a me­dia re­lease sent out Wed­nes­day, the govern­ment an­nounced that SARCAN re­cy­cling cen­tres will be ac­cept­ing elec­tron­ics such as scan­ners, floor stand­ing print­ers, gam­ing con­soles and e-book read­ers.

“Th­ese changes were de­vel­oped in re­sponse to con­sul­ta­tions and our on­go­ing com­mit­ment to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment,” said Min­is­ter of the En­vi­ron­ment Dustin Dun­can.

Bri­enne Ben­nett, en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment ad­min­is­tra­tor with the Min­istry of the En­vi­ron­ment, said the prov­ince’s elec­tron­ics re­cy­cling pro­gram, which dates back to 2007, plays an im­por­tant role in mak­ing sure ma­te­ri­als are dis­posed of prop­erly. The pro­gram has grown since it was in­tro­duced, ex­pand­ing in 2010-11.

“This is the third ex­pan­sion,” Ben­nett said.

With the growth of the pro­gram and its abil­ity to take more items, Saskatchewan has caught up with both Man­i­toba and Bri­tish Columbia. The provin­cial govern­ment worked with a num­ber of groups, both from in­dus­try and en­vi­ron­men­tal sec­tors, in­clud­ing the Elec­tron­ics Prod­ucts Re­cy­cling As­so­ci­a­tion Saskatchewan. The group is an in­dus­try-led not-for-profit that works to make sure old elec­tronic de­vices are dis­posed of prop­erly and kept out of land­fills.

“They are the ones who man­age the pro­gram and man­age the con­trac­tors within the pro­gram, so they them­selves would not recycle them, they would be the mid­dle-man that ar­ranges th­ese prod­ucts to get to the ap­pro­pri­ate re­cy­clers,” Ben­nett said.

What can hap­pen to a prod­uct when it is re­cy­cled de­pends on a num­ber of fac­tors. Some can be bro­ken down and reused, while oth­ers may con­tain chem­i­cals, like mer­cury or lead, that would then need to be dis­posed of sep­a­rately. Ac­cord­ing to Ben­nett, most the work that needed to be done to move for­ward on this front in­volved con­sul­ta­tions.

“Not a lot needed to be done be­sides stakeholder en­gage­ment to en­sure th­ese were the prod­ucts we should be adding,” she said.

Ben­nett ex­plained that in re­gards to re­cy­cling old elec­tron­ics, the process can be com­pli­cated by the fact that the prod­ucts are con­stantly chang­ing and evolv­ing.

“Some­times new prod­ucts are just de­vel­oped, and in the mean­time, some of the ad­di­tional pieces you can bring in didn’t ex­ist when the orig­i­nal reg­u­la­tions were writ­ten,” she said.

The min­istry was not able to pro­vide num­bers on how much ma­te­rial would be di­verted from the prov­ince’s land­fills as a re­sult of the ex­panded re­cy­cling op­tions. Ben­nett said this is in part be­cause with the evo­lu­tion of de­vices, the weights tend to vary, which makes it hard to de­ter­mine how many de­vices are be­ing re­cy­cled.

“They changes quite a bit … things like TVs used to weigh quite a bit more than they do now, so it’s hard to es­ti­mate us­ing weight,” she said.

In terms of pos­si­bly ex­pand­ing the prov­ince’s elec­tronic re­cy­cling pro­gram fur­ther, Ben­nett said the prospect of do­ing so is some­thing that is on the ta­ble.

“It is some­thing that we are def­i­nitely con­sid­er­ing, per­haps hav­ing an ex­pan­sion in the fu­ture to in­clude ad­di­tional prod­ucts, but we’re not sure at this time,” she said.

Th­ese changes were de­vel­oped in re­sponse to con­sul­ta­tions and our on­go­ing com­mit­ment to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

Dustin Dun­can, Min­is­ter of the En­vi­ron­ment

MICHAEL JOEL-HANSEN/TIMES-HER­ALD

Start­ing next spring, peo­ple in Saskatchewan will be able to bring more elec­tronic de­vices to SARCAN for re­cy­cling.

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