Too many Metro Vancouver residents and businesses are still chucking unwanted electronics in the trash despite them being banned from landfills.
Electronic waste made up 35 per cent of all recyclable materials that were found to have been improperly put in the garbage last year, up from 20 per cent in 2010, according to a Metro Vancouver report.
Computers, TVs and related electronics were banned from disposal by the regional district a year after depots began collecting them in 2007 for verified recycling, and the e-waste recycling system expanded further to include virtually any item with a battery or a power cord by mid-2012.
Metro contracts seven independent inspectors to check incoming loads of waste at its transfer stations for banned materials. They issued more than 5,800 violation surcharges against waste haulers who arrived with too high a proportion of recyclables last year.
Metro solid waste manager Paul Henderson said he’s not surprised that e-waste has now passed cardboard as the top category of material drawing the most violations.
“Our inspectors are now looking for more types of electronics than they were previously,” Henderson said. “That category has gotten broader and broader over time.”
The rate of illegal dumping violations climbed from 3.2 per cent of loads checked in 2012 to 3.7 per cent in 2013.
A staff report to Metro’s zero waste committee shows cardboard has declined from 30 per cent of material violations in 2010 to 18 per cent in 2013.
Inspectors also report declining amounts of banned paper and yard waste – also subject to well-established bans.
Officials say that indicates the overall success of the material ban program in encouraging waste diversion.
Paint containers were also banned from the dump in 2011 and have climbed from six to 11 per cent of violations, in part because Metro ordered tougher enforcement on that category.
Incoming loads are allowed to contain a maximum of five per cent banned materials.
A total of $453,800 in disposal ban surcharges were levied in 2013.
According to the report, commercial haulers were to blame for most of last year’s violations – they collectively had an 8.9 per cent rate of violations.
Waste haulers are supposed to watch for banned materials and
The violation rate was 3.4 per cent of loads collected by municipal garbage trucks, and 0.6 per cent for residents who dropped off waste at transfer stations themselves.