Recycling waste materials like automobiles, cans, bottles, and paper has grown as a big business over the years and it is especially profitable when the materials are cost-effective to process and re-use. Automobiles and their parts are by far the most extensively recycled items: new cars are 84% recycled material by weight and the relative cost of recycling is low. The incentive is there for industry to assist with recycling activities and this has been realized in Ontario with a long-awaited campaign to recycle old computers and the whole range of electronic devices.
Ontario’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment program (bearing the acronym WEEE), is a phased-in undertaking that launched Phase 1 in April 2009 and established a network of 167 drop-off boxes for a specific list of devices: TVs, computers, printers, fax machines, monitors, drives, keyboards, and mice. WEEE is an industry-developed plan funded by electronics manufacturers and importers. The effort comes back to them in spades since it will result in greater sales when people have a convenient way to dispose of last year’s model.
An industry consortium, Electronics Product Stewardship Canada (EPSC) is working to ensure proper recycling standards and auditing to make sure that the managing of end-of-life electronics is done in an environmentally friendly way. They strengthened the Recycling Vendor Qualification Program in 2006 to increase the minimum recycling requirements and limit the amount of e-waste sent off to third-world countries.
When it becomes necessary to dispose of IT equipment the security of data is of concern to businesses. They will usually opt to have their own people scrub the disks, or have the computers recycled privately by specialist computer recycling companies under contract who will maintain security. Ontario’s program will process consumer and business waste at no fee, but as EPSC President Dalton Burger explains, “Businesses have traditionally undertaken to come up with their own recycling programs. This (WEEE) is just another option for them.”
In addition to estimating future tonnage of computer waste to be disposed of, Statistics Canada also studies the repercussions of having increased levels of toxins in the environment. Used laptops and desktops can be repaired and sold as refurbished computers instead of adding harmful toxins to the environment. Statscan notes that, according to Environment Canada, information technology (IT) and telecom products contain hazardous and toxic substances ranging from lead, mercury and beryllium in computer monitors to arsenic, cadmium and lead in mobile phones.
Once these heavy metals and poisons find their way into the water supply and the food chain they are ingested by animals and humans – much to the detriment of their longevity and clarity of thought. In addition to the accidental toxins we ingest, fluoride, a waste product of aluminum production was introduced deliberately into the water supply in the 1940s to accomplish several sinister objectives: the corporations stood to gain astronomical profits by creating a market for a waste chemical, and since corporations exert control over government they have an endless and predictable cash cow with pre-set orders for supplies to be added to the drinking water.
The desired political motive is to reduce the overall sharpness of the population’s intelligence. The health effects of fluoride on the brain are summed up in a report by the Fluoride Action Network: “Studies in animals and human populations suggest that fluoride exposure, at levels that are experienced by a significant proportion of the population whose drinking water is fluoridated, may have adverse impacts on the developing brain. The heavy metals and toxic chemicals found in electronic waste have a similar effect in the interference with brain wave frequency and must not be allowed into the water supply.