The electronics recycling pilot is a two-year project that expands the scope of electronic products Albertans can recycle without adding new consumer fees. It’s operated by the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) and will inform how government can advance electronics recycling in the future.
We are looking at the possibility of implementing a sustainable and expanded electronics recycling program that will support jobs and our economy as we grapple with the COVID-19 recession. Municipalities will benefit as they’ll get compensated for additional electronic items.
The pilot will enhance protection of the environment and position Alberta as a significant contributor to the emerging circular economy where we recycle and recover as much product material as possible and return it to the manufacturing process.
The Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) has identified an electronic recycling pilot program as having great potential to support job creation.
ARMA will collect data and compile research and analysis of recycling processes, the associated costs, and anticipated demand/use levels for a variety of electronic waste goods. The project and data will help inform government the best course forward to advance the electronics recycling program in Alberta.
The following five categories will be included in the pilot and under each category are some examples of the products that will be accepted:
Clock, Fan, Hair dryer, Heater, Iron, Microwave, Toaster, Shaver, Vacuum, Residential Air Conditioner (Devices with freon not accepted)
CD Player, Clock Radio, Digital Camera, DVD Player, Headphones, Satellite Dish, Satellite Radio, Speakers, Video Camera
Answering Machine, Cell Phone, Landline Phone, Modem and Router, Pager, Satellite Phone, Speakerphone
Power and Air Tools
Drill, Grinder, Miter Saw, Nail Gun, Residential Air Compressor, Sharpener, Shop Vacuum, Skillsaw, Table Saw
Games, Toys and Music
Action Figure, Amplifier, Guitar, Keyboard, Microphone, Ride-on Toy, Toy Robot, Toy Vehicle, Video Gaming, Equipment
The average expected volume of additional electronic waste processed is approximately 12,300 tonnes per year as ‘net new’ to the pilot project. Given the pilot is estimated to run up to two years, this equates to 24,600 tonnes recycled in the pilot program.
Before this occurs, ARMA will procure external expertise to support program implementation and execution, and stakeholder engagement and communications. Following the planning phase, Albertans should expect to begin recycling additional electronics material as of September 1, 2020 (call your local electronics collection site first to confirm their participation in the pilot).
No, this pilot is strictly for electronic devices generated from the residential sector. ARMA will collect data and compile research and analysis of recycling processes, the associated costs, and anticipated demand/use levels for a variety of electronic waste goods. The project and data will help inform government the best course forward to advance the electronics recycling program in Alberta.
At this time, we do not anticipate the pandemic to impact this pilot project as recycling and waste management have been identified as an essential service. Municipal and Indigenous collection sites remain open and Albertans are encouraged to continue bringing their recycling to collection sites while practicing physical distancing. The engagement phase will be completed through technology exchanges such as Skype or Zoom meetings, emails and other tools that support social distancing and Chief Medical Officer of Health guidelines.
The estimated cost is $43 million which is funding that ARMA already has in place from its current electronics recycling program.
An economic impact assessment (EIA) commissioned by ARMA determined that there is the potential to almost double the recycling jobs in the provincial electronics program by adding an additional 360 jobs to the 400 existing full-time equivalent jobs (FTE), bringing the total to 760 FTE. These jobs include collection, transportation, processing and manufacturing.
In addition to the $50 million generated through the current electronics program, the EIA calculated that a sustainable expanded electronics recycling program has the potential to inject an additional $30 million annually into Alberta’s economy, totaling $80 million in annual economic benefit.
Currently, municipalities do not receive compensation to manage non-program electronics. Under the pilot project, municipalities will be financially compensated for the cost of collection on all electronics included in the expansion. The pilot program could divert up to an additional 12,300 tonnes from landfills annually, which would equate to a landfill cost saving of up to $1.3 million across 82 landfills that accept electronics.
The environmental benefits include preventing hazardous materials from leaching into the ground and water; reducing the amount of waste destined for landfills; preserving natural resources by reducing the need to use up precious, non-renewable materials to make new products; and, conserving energy by using recycled material to make new products instead of raw material.
A circular economy is where products have a longer life cycle, and upon the end of a products life cycle, we recycle and recover as much material as possible and return it to the manufacturing process.
As published in the 2018/19 ARMA Annual Report, the average cost over the last two years to operate the electronics recycling program is approximately $11.8 million per year.
There is no cost to Albertans for the additional materials that will be collected during the pilot project. The data gathered from this pilot program will be used to better understand the cost of recycling electronics in the future.
No, municipalities, Indigenous communities and recycling processors will be paid for the collection and processing of products collected for recycling.
Consumers will not have to pay for electronics recycled as part of the pilot project. The Alberta Recycling Management Authority will pay for all electronics collected as part of the pilot.
In addition to the electronics pilot program, government is exploring additional policy tools for new recycling programs. This includes packaging and printed paper, and extended producer responsibility. The province is also funding an agricultural plastic pilot program that may be used to inform future policies and direction to support farmers and ranchers. The Government of Alberta will continue to consider stakeholder input and study best practices of other jurisdictions to improve key areas of Alberta’s recycling efforts.
Alberta Recycling Management Authority is a registered not-for-profit organization responsible for managing the province’s tire, electronics, paint and used oil recycling programs. This organization reports to the Minister of Environment and Parks and is run by a board of directors representing urban and rural municipalities, Indigenous relations, industry, environmental organizations, Alberta Environment and Parks and the public-at-large.
There are currently 365 municipal and Indigenous electronics collections sites throughout the province registered with ARMA but managed by municipalities and Indigenous communities where residents and businesses can drop off their electronics for recycling. Also, there are six registered recyclers that pick up the electronics from the 365 sites, as well as from businesses, and take the electronics back to their facilities where the products are disassembled in a safe, secure and environmentally sound manner. 96% of Albertans live no further than a 20-minute drive to an electronics collection site.
Collection and processing of electronics isn’t expected to start for at least four months at which time the pandemic situation will likely have changed, hopefully for the better. Regardless, electronics products are collected and processed differently than other waste products because they are placed in electronics bins by consumers and directly transported to processors. Electronics do not enter the general recycling stream like blue bag household recyclables for which the content needs to be sorted.
Many collections sites have implemented appropriate COVID mitigation measures and continue to manage electronics recyclables. In fact, the pilot project could help offset the reduction of other waste products currently destined for landfills as a result of the pandemic’s impact on reduced processing capacity at some municipal sorting facilities.
While previous consultation with stakeholders determined support for EPR in general, feedback received indicated that stakeholders were interested in understanding more specifics about what an EPR program would look like in Alberta.
The department has not been able to have these discussions with stakeholders and this will be further impacted by COVID-19. Outstanding concerns include impact to small businesses, municipal involvement, impact to newspapers and magazines, and cost to consumers. In lieu of these stakeholder discussions, the department continues to conduct research and investigate other jurisdictions’ experiences with EPR to inform future policy decisions.