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Small Appliance Recycling Program begins October 1 in British Columbia

New province-wide program provides environmentally responsible recycling option for more than two million small appliances sent to landfills every year

As of October 1st, 2011, British Columbians can recycle their used or broken small appliances at over 100 convenient drop-off locations through a new and unique program called Unplugged, the Small Appliance Recycling Program.  

Introduced by the Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association (CESA), Unplugged is the first small appliance recycling program of its kind in Canada and the only government-approved small appliance recycling program in B.C. The program will accept more than 120 small appliances for recycling, ranging from toasters and electric toothbrushes to countertop microwaves and vacuum cleaners. According to CESA, Unplugged will divert approximately two million small appliances previously destined for the landfill, helping to reduce pollution, save energy, and protect the environment.     

 “This is a welcome addition to B.C.’s industry-managed and funded recycling programs,” says Brock Macdonald, Executive Director, Recycling Council of British Columbia. “By diverting small appliances from municipal waste streams, Unplugged will recover valuable resources, promote conservation and reduce waste management costs for local governments throughout the province.”      

Unplugged will also help save energy by recycling materials such as aluminum, which takes 95 per cent less energy to recycle than it does to make it from raw materials, or steel, which uses 74 per cent less energy.      

“We are proud to see that the small appliance industry has developed a program to help British Columbians recycle their products and keep them out of the landfill,” says Environment Minister Terry Lake.

“Unplugged will add to an already impressive list of 12 other product stewardship programs currently operating in the province for everything from beverage containers and tires, to electronics and batteries. These programs have helped put B.C. on the map as an environmental leader and we are happy to continue this tradition.”      

“Small appliance recycling is an important environmental initiative for British Columbia, and we are committed to collecting and recycling these products responsibly and effectively,” says Larry Moore, President of CESA.

“We know British Columbians are ready for a program like Unplugged. In fact, a recent survey found almost all (97%) would consider participating in a small appliance recycling program, while nearly 90 per cent would encourage others to take part.”       

After an appliance is brought to a drop-off location, it is transported to processors in Western Canada and separated into different materials which are then recycled. Metals will be smelted down and recycled into other metal products, while plastics and glass will be sorted and sold or reused in various manufacturing processes.       

CESA has partnered with B.C.-based Product Care Association (PCA) to set up and operate Unplugged throughout the province.     

 “We are happy to have the support of a wide number of retailers, municipalities, and manufacturers who see the importance of the Unplugged program,” says Mark Kurschner, president of PCA.      

“We will continue to work with recyclers to maximize the amount of materials recycled through Unplugged,” adds Kurschner. “And by setting up a comprehensive, province-wide network of drop-off locations, will ensure British Columbians can recycle their old or broken small appliances as part of their regular routine.”       

As a non-profit program, Unplugged will be fully funded by a recycling fee applied to new products brought into B.C. by small appliance manufacturers and retailers. The recycling fee covers all program costs, including collection, transportation and recycling, and may be included in a product’s price or displayed as a separate charge at check-out. The program will operate on a cost-recovery basis and all fees collected will stay within the program.      

Accepted electrical products are divided into 14 different categories such as: kitchen countertop, time measurement, weight measurement, garment care, air treatment, floor cleaning, personal care and designated very small items (e.g. air fresheners), with a corresponding fee attached to each.        

Fees include:

Kitchen Countertop – Motorized (e.g. Blender)  $ 2.25  

Kitchen Countertop – Heating (e.g. Toaster)  $ 2.25

Kitchen Countertop – Heating: Coffee/Tea (e.g. Coffee Maker)  $ 2.00       

Large Countertop Microwave (1 cubic foot or larger)  $10.00

Small Countertop Microwave (Less than 1 cubic foot)  $7.50  

Time Measurement (e.g. Clock)  $ 0.75  

Weight Measurement (e.g. Bathroom Scale)  $ 2.75  

Garment Care (e.g. Iron)  $ 1.00  

Air Treatment (e.g. Air Purifier) $ 2.25  

Desk and Tabletop Fans  $ 1.25  

Personal Care (e.g. Hair Dryer)  $1.00  

Large Floor Cleaning (e.g. Carpet Cleaner)   $ 5.25  

Small Floor Cleaning (e.g. Handheld Vacuum)   $ 1.00  

Designated Very Small Items (e.g. Air Freshener)   $ 0.25    

A full list of accepted products and fees can be found at

British Columbians can also receive program updates and submit their questions through the online Ask Unplugged button, or find a drop-off location in their community through the easy-to-use locator map.  

The Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association (CESA) is a non-profit industry association formed to create and manage the Unplugged recycling program for small appliances in British Columbia. CESA’s membership includes a wide array of small appliance manufacturers and retailers who import and sell small appliances in British Columbia.    

CESA has partnered with B.C.-based Product Care Association to set up and operate Unplugged throughout the province.      

For a full list of retailers and other CESA members participating in the program, please go to