Lacombe expands electronics recycling program

The new recycling program is able to take electronics that previously weren’t accepted

Old toasters, lamps, radios and vacuum cleaners will no longer have to join forces and go on a harrowing quest to find a new home anymore, they’ve got a place at the City of Lacombe Public Works facility.

On Sept. 1 the City of Lacombe in conjunction with Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) launched a two-year pilot project called Electronics Expanded.

The project is an expansion of the E-waste Recycling program. This expansion means municipalities and recycling centres, that have signed up for the program, are able to take in a much wider range of electronic items – at no cost to residents.

“It’s a very nice extension of the previous program where we’re not limited to what we can recycle,” said Manager of Utilities for the City of Lacombe, Chris Huston. “When it gets plugged in or a battery runs out instead of just hitting the landfills, they can bring it to Public Works, and we can actually get it recycled out properly.”

The intent of the pilot project is to collect data on the feasibility of this expanded program. It is estimated that the project will see 24,600 tonnes of electronics recycled in the two years that it runs.

According to the ARMA website, this pilot program is a way for Alberta to enter into the “emerging circular economy.” The circular economy is one that sees products recycled and then taken apart to recover as much material as is possible. The recovered materials are then meant to be returned to the manufacturing process.

“It is basically a win-win on the environment side. Instead of burying these old batteries and this metal and this plastic – all these components that go into powering these devices. We are able to – from what they are telling us – they’re able to pull out a lot of valuable stuff from everything that we use and save it from being in the landfill, said Huston.

ARMA states there is potential to double recycling jobs in the province with this program and there could be an increase of $30 million into the economy.

So far, the estimated cost of running the program $43 million – which is funding ARMA already had in place.

“What they’re doing is they’re doing this pilot project to see if there’s enough interest for gathering these items and just the actual payback on recycling these and pulling the valuable components out of these to see if it is actually worth the time and effort that goes into collecting them,” explained Huston.

Huston said, so far, the response from the public has been positive and the Public Works facility has seen more traffic than usual in the last two days.

Those old toasters won’t have to be quite so brave – for at least the next two years.

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