Frequently Asked Questions

General Electronics Recycling Program FAQs

Q: What is the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA)?

EPRA is a not-for-profit extended producer responsibility association set up by the major producers and retailers of electronics to provide industry-led and regulated recycling programs for unwanted electronics.  Members of EPRA include Electronics Product Stewardship Canada (EPSC) and the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and their members.

Q: The program was originally set up and run by ESABC. Why has it changed to EPRA?

The program was previously run by ESABC and transitioned to the national program (EPRA) to enhance efficiencies.

Q: Who runs the program?

EPRA has contracted with Encorp Pacific to deliver the stewardship program under the Return-ItTM brand in British Columbia. Encorp’s mandate on behalf of EPRA is to manage a consumer friendly and cost effective system to recover regulated electronic products from consumers and ensure that they are recycled in a safe and environmentally sound manner and not landfilled or shipped to developing nations. The program is named “Return-It Electronics” and is designed to shift the responsibility for the responsible recycling of unwanted products from BC taxpayers (through municipalities and regional districts) to the producers and consumers of these products.

Q: Why is this program important?

The Return-It Electronics recycling program provides an environmentally sound recycling option for unwanted electronics providing assurance that these items will not be landfilled or illegally exported. You can drop off any of the acceptable products at designated Return-It ElectronicsTM Collection Sites without charge, and be assured they will be recycled responsibly.

Q: Where in BC can I return my electronics?

There are more than 130 convenient locations in BC. Visit www.return-it.ca/electronics/locations to find a Return-It™ collection site nearest you.

Q: How is the program funded?

The program is financed by an Environmental Handling Fee (EHF) remitted by member producers, distributors and retailers on new regulated products sold in BC.  100% of the program revenue is used for the administration, collection, transportation, and responsible recycling of unwanted electronics.

Q: Is this program funded by taxpayers?

The EHF is not a tax and none of the funds collected go to the government. The cost of the program is not borne by taxpayers but by consumers, producers, retailers and distributors of electronic products.

Q: What are the acceptable electronic items included in the program, and how much are the fees?

Regulated electronic items can be recycled free of charge at any Return-It ElectronicsCollection Site. The associated Environmental Handling Fees (EHF) are charged at the time of purchase.

Q: Why should I have to pay a fee on the purchase of new electronics?

Environmental Handling Fees (EHF) on the sale of new products assist in covering the cost of responsible recycling of electronics currently in the waste stream. Many of the products dropped off at Collection Sites are old or produced by companies who are no longer in business. The EHF covers the cost of regulating all electronic products including historic and orphaned waste.

Q: How will I know whether I’ve paid a fee on my purchase?

The environmental handling fee (EHF) charged on the sale of new electronics products included in the program may appear on your sales receipt.

Q: How are the fees determined?

Fees are calculated by product category to cover the cost to collect and process the existing unwanted electronics being managed by the program. 100% of the EHF is used for the administration, collection, transportation and responsible recycling of regulated electronic products.

Q: Do I have to pay tax on the EHF (Environmental Handling Fee)?

Yes.  Effective April 1, 2013, the EHF is subject to GST and PST.

British Columbia returned to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) 5% and Provincial Sales Tax (PST) 7% system and therefore, Harmonized Sales Tax HST of 12% will no longer be applicable as of April 1, 2013.

 

 

 

Q: Will I get money back when I return my used electronics?

There is no refund paid to you when you return electronics for recycling as this is not a deposit program. Under the Stewardship Program, you can return your electronics free of charge to a Return-It Electronics Collection Site and be assured they will be recycled responsibly.

Q: Where will the collected electronics go?

Following collection, consolidated electronics are shipped to approved processing and recycling contractors. All recyclers are under contract with EPRA and required to meet Recycling Qualification Program standards to ensure materials are processed in an environmentally sound manner with appropriate health, safety and export provisions. Find the qualification standards at www.RQP.ca.

Q: How are electronics recycled?

Electronics collected in BC for recycling are sent to approved primary recyclers in North America.  These items are broken down using various manual and mechanical processes.  Products such as batteries and mercury lamps, which require special processing to recover materials, are removed. The remaining products are separated into their individual components for recovery. Through a variety of refining and smelting processes, the materials reclaimed from unwanted electronics are used as raw materials in the manufacturing of new products.

Q: I heard that recycled electronics are burned in a smelter. Isn't that just as bad/worse for the environment?

Many people don't realize this, but smelting is the process by which metals are extracted from recycled products to ensure they don't make it into the environment. The lead, mercury, copper and other metals reclaimed by this process are then reused in new products.

For more information, please visit EPRA BC.

 

Q: Isn’t it important to reuse before recycling?

Absolutely. While our program is designed to manage unwanted electronic products that have exhausted their reuse potential, we strongly encourage users to first reuse their products. We recommend reusing within your own family first. If you choose to donate to a charity, be sure to research how the charity uses the equipment and how they will dispose of it when it is no longer useful. Make sure you have backed up your data and wiped your drives clean prior to donation or passing on your old electronics.

Q: If I return my recyclable electronic products, how do I know my personal information won’t be seen or stolen?

For your own personal security you need to take adequate steps to ensure that no private data remains on your electronic products prior to donation or return to a Collection Site.  Once an electronic item has been delivered to a Return-It Electronics™ Collection Site it will not be reused. All items collected will be recycled. When you recycle your unwanted electronics, every effort will be made to ensure the privacy and security of any personal information; however, the Return-It™ System, Encorp or EPRA does not accept any liability for any data that remains on your electronic products.

Q: What if I have a television or computer monitor with a smashed screen?

Monitors and televisions with smashed screens are considered hazardous materials under provincial regulations and can only be accepted at specific locations as they require special handling procedures. Find these locations at www.return-it.ca/electronics/recycling/specialhandling/

Q: What if I have a large volume of obsolete electronics?

Pick up services for large volumes (i.e.: 3 pallets or more) of unwanted electronics is provided at no cost provided certain requirements have been met. Requirements can be found at www.return-it.ca/electronics/recycling/largevolume

Q: Are there pick-up services for large electronic items? (e.g. old TV's)

Return-It Electronics does not directly offer pick-up services at this time. However, many retailers will offer to take your old device away, sometimes for a fee, upon delivery of a new device purchased from them. These retailers will then take your old device to a designated Return-It Electronics collection site on your behalf.

Q: What are 'unwanted' or 'end-of-life' electronics?

These refer to used electronic items that are obsolete and un-useable electronic items that consumers have chosen to deliver to a Return-ItTM Electronics collection site for recycling in this program.

Q: Why Encorp Pacific?

Encorp Pacific was selected for this program because of their experience in environmental stewardship. Encorp Pacific’s mandate on behalf of EPRA is to develop and manage a consumer-friendly and cost-effective system to recover regulated electronics products from consumers and ensure that they are recycled in a safe and environmentally-sound manner and not landfilled or shipped to developing nations.

Q: What difference is there between a Return-It Electronics location and a private recycler or municipal depot?

Return-It Electronics collection sites are regulated and monitored to ensure all electronics are recycled in a responsible manner, in their entirety, and that none of the materials are exported to third-world countries. Other electronics recyclers not part of this program cannot necessarily provide the same assurance.

Q: Is it possible to buy working, used electronics from Encorp?

No. Once a device has been taken to a Return-It Electronics collection site, it will be recycled in its entirety in an environmentally responsible manner. This is the purpose of the Return-It Electronics program.

However, we do encourage the reuse of unwanted electronic items if they are still of service. Such devices should be given, sold or traded rather than being taken to a Return-It Electronics site. Encorp and EPRA help sponsor the BC Materials Exchange (www.bcemex.ca) to assist in product reuse. Our website also provides helpful information on selecting a reuse organization.

Q: What is the electronics industry doing to reduce the impact of their products on the environment?

Electronics producers have undertaken various initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of their products, several key areas of improvement include: chemical management; energy efficiency; materials management; design for recycling; and product expandability. For more information, visit epsc.ca. From here you can find links to each EPSC member’s company and environmen­tal information.