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Diversion success stories on stage at CWRE

Canadians have, for some time, been quite progressive when it comes to recycling. Statistics Canada’s 2004 Census numbers show that across the country about 27 percent of waste is recycled – about 112 kilograms per capita. Regionally, British Columbia has always been a leader – the 2004 Census found that 37.7. percent of waste was diverted in B.C., and the Greater Vancouver area is now recycling around 1.5 million tons of material every year – about 55 percent of what is picked up by its system.

It makes sense, then, that the waste and recycling industry will once again be visiting Vancouver this fall for the annual Canadian Waste & Recycling Expo, and that one of the key messages will be about municipalities finding ways to recycle more effectively.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities will be sponsoring a plenary session discussing success stories and increased diversion rates, with cities achieving greater than 50 percent diversion sharing ideas.
Municipalities are perhaps the greatest driver of recycling efforts in Canada. Greater Vancouver’s diversion program added substantial changes in the rules regarding acceptable disposal earlier this year requiring separation of virtually every possible recyclable as it aims for a zero waste target. Toronto has a very progressive program as well with an end goal of zero waste down the road. There are plenty of innovative and effective methods of increasing recycling being implemented by municipalities looking to reduce their waste output and cut costs in the process, so the CWRE Plenary session should be a very interesting discussion.

There are a number of other seminars planned. Recycling topics will be facing challenges due to the economic downturn, trends and approaches to solid waste disposal. Hazardous waste will be discussed, as will composting – one of the regularly popular topics at the CWRE. Waste to energy projects will be the topic of some sessions, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Organizing Committee’s environmental planning and preparation organizers will speak.

Time to change the channel on television recycling

Innovative recycling is apparently not in the lexicon of some electronics manufacturers yet. With the changeover to digital television in progress, there are a lot of TVs being replaced and old units needing to be dealt with. Between CRT-based units and their many components and the vast amount of electronics that are used in construction of LCD and plasma televisions, there are plenty of materials that need to be properly recycled when these TVs are taken out of service. Unfortunately, according to a report released earlier this year, manufacturers are a little slow getting into the act.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition, a watchdog group that has published a report card on TV manufacturers’ recycling programs for the past two years, found that while some companies are making efforts to dispose of old televisions, some of the major players still have no established takeback or recycling options.
Ten companies – nine manufacturers and the U.S. retailer Target – were at the bottom of the report card issued in June. Included in those are sales leader Vizio and popular brands JVC, Hitachi and Sanyo. The Coalition pointed out that there are six manufacturers and two retailers with takeback programs.

The report card doesn’t indicate whether the retailers involved are doing similar programs in Canada as in the U.S.; Best Buy, which offers a full electronics recycling program in the States, only accepts certain items in Canada – and those don’t include TVs. Its corporate partner, Future Shop, also only accepts certain smaller items.

The key point in the report card is that there is still a long way to go to ensure that one of the most popular electronics purchases in the world has an end-of-life plan no matter what brand it is, and where it is purchased.

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