Ontario Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Program
Recycling waste materials like cars, cans, bottles, and paper has become big business over the years and is especially profitable when the materials are profitable to process and reuse. Cars and their parts are by far the most recycled items: new cars are 84% recycled material by weight, and the relative cost of recycling is low. There is an incentive for industry to help with recycling activities and this has come to fruition in Ontario with a long-awaited campaign to recycle old computers and the full range of electronic devices.
Ontario’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment program (which goes by the acronym WEEE) is a phased initiative that launched Phase 1 in April 2009 and established a network of 167 drop boxes for a specific list of devices: televisions, computers, printers, fax machines, monitors, drives, keyboards and mice. WEEE is an industry developed plan funded by manufacturers and importers of electronic products. The effort comes back to them in spades, as it will translate into higher sales when people have a convenient way to get rid of last year’s model.
An industry consortium, Electronics Product Stewardship Canada (EPSC) is working to ensure proper recycling standards and audits to ensure end-of-life electronics are managed in an environmentally sound manner. They strengthened the Recycling Vendor Qualification Program in 2006 to increase minimum recycling requirements and limit the amount of e-waste shipped to third world countries.
When IT equipment needs to be disposed of, data security is a concern for businesses. They will usually opt to have their own people clean the disks, or have the computers privately recycled by specialist computer recycling companies under contract who will maintain security. Ontario’s program will process commercial and consumer waste free of charge, but as EPSC President Dalton Burger explains, “Traditionally, businesses have committed to creating their own recycling programs. This (WEEE) is just another option for they”.
In addition to estimating the future tonnage of IT waste to be disposed of, Statistics Canada also studies the impact of increased levels of toxins in the environment. Used laptops and desktops can be repaired and sold as refurbished computers instead of adding harmful toxins to the environment. Statscan notes that, according to Environment Canada, information technology (IT) and telecommunications products contain hazardous and toxic substances ranging from lead, mercury, and beryllium in computer monitors to arsenic, cadmium, and Lead in mobile phones.
Once these heavy metals and poisons find their way into the water supply and food chain, they are ingested by animals and humans, to the detriment of their longevity and clarity of thought. In addition to the accidental toxins we ingest, fluoride, a waste product of aluminum production, was deliberately introduced into the water supply in the 1940s to achieve several sinister goals: Corporations made astronomical profits by creating a market for a waste chemical, and since the corporations exert control over the government, they have an endless and predictable cash cow with preset orders to add supplies to the drinking water.
The desired political motive is to reduce the general intelligence acuity of the population. The effects of fluoride on brain health are summarized in a Fluoride Action Network report: “Studies in animals and human populations suggest that exposure to fluoride, at levels experienced by a significant proportion of the population whose drinking water is fluoridated, can have adverse impacts on the developing brain Heavy metals and toxic chemicals found in e-waste have a similar effect in interfering with brain wave frequency and should not be allowed in the water supply.