New E-waste regulation reduces electronic waste
By Lori Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Manitoulin ExpositorElectronics Production / Materials Environmental E-waste environmental
Encourages innovation and partnerships
Ontario’s new e-waste regulation will require producers to collect and safely manage the full lifecycle of their electrical and electronic equipment such as cell phones, computers, printers and gaming equipment. The regulation, which takes effect on January 1, 2021, also promotes the reuse and refurbishment of products so they can be resold.
“ Electronics are becoming an increasing challenge for our waste system and we need new solutions to keep them out of landfills,” said Jeff Yurek, minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Oftentimes people hold onto these old electronics or find recycling these products quite confusing. Our government has a vision where the private sector steps up with solutions that protects our environment while creating jobs and opportunities for economic growth.”
Collaboration uses recycled electronics
Minister Yurek was joined by representatives from Nokia and Greener Acres at a Waste Reduction Week event on October 21 at Queen’s Park to highlight one such solution. This collaboration uses recycled electronics like smart phones, tablets and televisions to create smart light poles, designed by Greener Acres, which enable highspeed broadband powered by Nokia to be delivered across the province.
“Companies like Nokia and Greener Acres are finding new and innovative ways to manage their products, make recycling simpler and put these recyclable materials back into the economy,” said Minister Yurek. “I hope to see many other creative ideas coming forward over the coming months that will significantly reduce the amount of electronics from going to landfill.”
Next generation smart pole
“Nokia is proud of its strong legacy of supporting small business such as Greener Acres and we are excited to partner with another Ontario company to develop the next generation smart pole sourced from recycled content,” said Shawn Sparling, head of enterprise and public sector with Nokia Canada. “We create the technologies that connect the world, and Smart Cities powered by these Smart Green Poles will be key drivers in bringing high-speed connectivity to all Canadians.”
Nokia Canada has diverted over 50,000 units with their circular program to date, Mr. Sparling said. “As we replace networks from 2019 we’re seeing a 46 percent decrease in energy usage across our product line.”
“E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world,” said Meni Mancini, president and director of Greener Acres Canada, noting that more than 300,000 tonnes of e-waste and more than 50,000 tonnes are generated each year in Ontario alone. “Right now diversion rates are estimated at only 38 percent for end-of-life electronics that are diverted from landfill. Today’s regulation sets an ambitious recycling target of 70 percent and encourages business to reuse and refurbish electronics.”
The smart city poles will be made from almost 100 percent recycled materials and content and will be used for multiple technologies, including the high-speed internet infrastructure that is powered by Nokia, Ms. Mancini said. By leveraging specialized manufacturing technologies, Greener Acres can produce up to 1,000 Smart City Green poles each day. This relationship with Nokia will enable Greener Acres to create a dozen full-time jobs in Ontario, she added.
“The new regulation will also create new collection and management obligations for lighting producers starting in 2023 and will increase the types of products Ontarians are able to recycle through producer responsibility programs, resulting in more waste being diverted from landfills,” Minister Yurek said.
Responsible for waste associated with product
“Producers of electrical and electronic equipment such as cell phones, computers, printers, gaming consoles will now be responsible for the waste associated with their product and packaging. The regulation also encourages the refurbishment of used equipment so that they can be used again and we’re encouraging the use of repair options and extended warranties which will extend the life of all products. These changes are focused on allowing companies to find new and innovative ways to reduce costs, manage their materials and minimize the amount of waste headed towards the landfill.”
Under the regulation, the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority will be responsible for oversight and enforcement, including monitoring the performance of producers to ensure they meet requirements. The province estimated that producers could save an estimated $12 million by transitioning from the existing waste diversion program to a full producer responsibility model and anticipates that some of these savings could be passed on to consumers.