David McConkey - Columnist, Consultant, Citizen
Columnist. Consultant. Citizen.

Brand-New It’s Shiny, But That Waste Isn’t Tiny

Brandon Sun, May 25, 2006 - David McConkey

Aren’t all the new electronic gizmos great? From iPods, to the latest cell phones, to those sleek new computer monitors?

But what happens to all the old stuff when we get the new stuff?

Reflecting on sustainable use and disposal right now is quite appropriate. Environment Week runs from June 4 to10.

With new products, come new opportunities, but also new problems.

We also get lots and lots of new names and acronyms. Instead of the usual CRT, how about a new LCD computer monitor? How about a DLP, plasma, or LCD HDTV?

It’s in with the new, out with the old. While we are having fun, we are making WEEE!

That’s “Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment.” You know, WEEE!

They’re only three percent of the waste stream now, but old electronics are increasing in volume all the time. They also can contain hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.

Governments are looking to do something about the problem. In fact, the Manitoba government has been looking since 2001 at draft regulations for handling electronic waste properly.

In Alberta, a program is now operating. Consumers pay a levy when they buy a product. The fee ranges from $8 for a new laptop computer, to $45 for one of those new gargantuan TVs.
These new programs embody the concepts of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) and the IFO (Industry Funding Organization). Simply put, the costs of these programs will not be shouldered by the general taxpayer. Instead, the producers (and users) of products will pay.
Guiding the process in our province is a new government initiative, Green Manitoba. An electronic waste program will come eventually. It will not be too soon. Annually, in Manitoba, we throw out more than 1 million units of e-waste, adding up to 19,000 tonnes.

Back to Environment Week right now: one popular event in many communities is the Commuter Challenge. The Challenge is a friendly competition to highlight environmental ways of getting to work or school. The Challenge can be for all week, or for “Clean Air Day” on June 7.

Winnipeg placed first overall in Canada last year in the national Commuter Challenge. The city had the most participation of those who commuted using buses, bikes, skates, carpools, even canoes. Some people eliminated the travel altogether and “telecommuted” from home.

Here, ongoing City of Brandon environmental initiatives include a methane gas project at the Eastview Landfill and an energy retrofit of 12 municipal buildings. (For more information about the City of Brandon’s environmental programs, contact Tom Keep at the City, 729-2171.)
For Environment Week this year, Westman Recycling will accept old computers, cell phones, and printer cartridges: Saturday, June 3, 2006, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The location will be the CMHA Re-Store, 22 – 11th Street. Thanks for the support from Canexus (formerly Nexen) Chemicals.

Only the monitor and the CPU (tower) can be accepted at this time. For more information about dropping off computers, call 729-8123.

Cell phones and printer cartridges support the work of Samaritan House; you can drop off them year round at 630 Rosser Avenue. Call 726-0758 for information.
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See also:  

Blue Bag System Abruptly Abandoned

Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba

The “Dark Side” of Recycling?

Welcome to the World of Sustainability

Citizen Active



David McConkey,
Brandon, Manitoba
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