The State of HHW in Saskatchewan 2011
“I’m moving. Is there anywhere I can safely dispose of the hazardous products in my home that I no longer need?” This is a question that we get quite often at the SWRC office. I am sure it plagues many municipal offices as well. If only there was a better answer than “well, there are not many options, but you shouldn’t throw it out...” Waste Watch last took a look at the state of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) recycling in 2009. This article paints a broad picture of where our province is now in 2011.
The SWRC is currently advocating for full product stewardship for all HHW. As a refresher, product stewardship means that manufacturers take on the responsibility for a product’s disposal at the end of its life. Manufacturers generally pass the costs of product stewardship on to the consumer, which creates a ‘user-pay’ system. Without stewardship, the other option is to have government (i.e. taxpayers) pay, if any money is put towards a solution at all. In some cases industry is legislated by government to create a stewardship program; in others industry chooses to operate one voluntarily.
In Saskatchewan, we currently have three legislated stewardship programs for specific hazardous materials. These programs, though successful in their own areas, cover only a portion of the wide array of hazardous products sold to the public.
Our current HHW stewards are:
Saskatchewan Association for Resource Recovery Corporation (SARRC): this program began in 1996 and takes back used engine oil, filters and containers. Used oil represents the largest volume of hazardous waste produced by consumers.
SARRC is a member of the Used Oil Management Association, which also operates programs in B.C., Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec.
Saskatchewan Paint Recycling Program: one decade later, in 2006, household paint was put under product stewardship legislation in Saskatchewan. Paint accounts for one of the largest volumes of HHW.
The program is managed by Product Care, an industry association. The paint is collected at SARCAN recycling depots. Product Care also operates paint recycling programs in B.C., Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Saskatchewan Waste Electronic Equipment Program (SWEEP): Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing waste categories, and contains many hazardous materials. Industry was legislated to provide a stewardship program beginning in 2007. It began with computers and televisions, and has since expanded into all audio visual equipment.
SWEEP cooperates with the two other Canadian electronic industry recycling programs organizations that operate in B.C. and
Further information on these Saskatchewan programs can be found at RecycleSakatchewan.ca.
Besides two small-scale voluntary programs for rechargeable batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs there is no comprehensive program for the rest of HHW.
Some attempts at collection have been made in the province. For a brief period, from 2007 to 2009, the government ran a pilot program out of the provincial Go Green fund to help a limited number of municipalities hold HHW collection events. Many communities applied and those that were selected for funding held collection events coordinated by Product Care.
The Go Green fund was never intended to support long-term programs, and as such, none of it has been allocated to offer collection days since 2009. In the meantime, Saskatchewan’s two largest cities are taking matters into their own hands.
Although Regina had an HHW program in the mid 1990s it was discontinued because of its expense. Waste Plan Regina was approved in spring of 2010, which includes a permanent HHW drop-off location for residents. No date has been set for the start of the HHW piece of the plan.
Saskatoon hired a local hazardous waste materials company to offer citizens HHW drop off opportunities starting in 2004. Currently there are one or two Saturdays per month designated when taxpaying residents can drop-off items.
Although better than no option at all, these programs are not as accessible as a full stewardship program. They are also taxpayer based, instead of user-pay based.
Where does Saskatchewan fit in the Canadian context of HHW? So far, Quebec and New Brunswick are in much the same position as we are. B.C. and Ontario have stewardship programs for select HHW materials. All other provinces use tax dollars, in one form or another, to provide permanent or temporary collection locations.
The SWRC is encouraging the provincial government to work towards a true stewardship plan for all HHW. The topic was identified as one of significance at SWRC’s inception, and we have been engaged in targeted correspondence with the government on the matter since 2004. The province has indicated that they do not want to tackle an HHW program until the Multi Material Recycling Program (packaging recycling) is fully underway.
For more information, see other articles in this section of our website.
(Source: April 2011 WasteWatch)
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