While provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia and, most recently, Ontario are creating fee-funded electronics recycling programs to combat the scourge of e-waste, that’s not stopping vendors such as Samsung Canada from creating their own recycling programs.
Samsung Electronics Canada recently launched Samsung Recycling Direct, a Canada-wide recycling program that will see the vendor and partner Green Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP) accept Samsung-branded consumer electronics at 15 fixed collection points across the country for recycling, free of charge. Non-Samsung equipment will also be accepted for a cost recovery-only fee.
Ron Hulse, vice-president, IT marketing with Samsung Canada, said market-leading vendors need to address the fact that, while consumers still want to buy the latest electronic devices, they also want to reconcile that desire with their desire to be environmentally conscious.
“We need to help consumers deal with the battle between ‘green guilt’ and their desire to have the latest technology, because if you’re doing that you’ll be disposing of the technology you have before it’s functionally obsolete.”
That’s always been a barrier to buying, said Hulse, because consumers want to feel good about their choices and not have to deal with green guilt. Knowing end of life recycling programs such as Samsung Recycling Direct are in place is part of that.
But also important, he added, is assuring consumers that a vendor’s green commitment begins at the product design stage and carries-on through manufacturing. To that end, Hulse said Samsung has been re-thinking how it designs and manufacturers products, and now considers end of life disposal in the design phase.
“We’re now manufacturing and selecting components with disposability in mind, thinking about energy efficiency and how the product will be used, we’re making products smaller and lighter for easier transportation, and we’re using materials that can be re-circulated at the raw component level,” said Hulse. “We want to give consumers an easy choice.”
The recycling program in particular is in response to what Samsung sees as a growing concern about e-waste and a lack of awareness of the options that are out there. With this new program, Hulse said GEEP will be recycling 97 per cent of what goes into Samsung products.
While more provinces are ramping-up their own e-waste programs funded by levies or fees that usually filter down, either directly or indirectly, to the consumer, Hulse said there’s still a place for vendor-led and funded programs such as Samsung’s.
As a critical mass of vendor programs grows, Hulse said he could see vendors working together to collect and recycle e-waste. Where he sees an important role for government programs is in rural areas where the critical mass may make it difficult for a vendor to justify the economics of supporting the infrastructure of collection and disposal.