Unplugged e-recycling now available in British Columbia

On October 1, 2011, British Columbians were first able to recycle their used or broken small appliances at over 100 drop-off locations through a new program called Unplugged, the Small Appliance Recycling Program.

Unplugged will divert approximately two million small appliances previously destined for the landfill, helping to reduce pollution, save energy and protect the environment.

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 British Columbia (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.

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

According to 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 percent) would consider participating in a small appliance recycling program, while nearly 90 percent 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 to set up and operate Unplugged throughout the province.

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.