Ralph Charlton, Raven’s Recycling operations manager, puts a microwave dropped off at the centre on Oct. 1 into the miscellaneous e-waste bin. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

E-waste, tires now free to be dropped off for recycling in the Yukon

Yukoners no longer have to pay tipping fees, but a surcharge at the point of purchase instead

Bring out your dead microwaves, your threadbare tires, that vacuum that hasn’t sucked quite right since the late ‘90s — starting today, Yukoners will be able to recycle their e-waste and tires without paying a fee when they drop them off.

As of Oct. 1, the Yukon government will be applying a surcharge to electronics and tires at the point of purchase to help cover the cost of recycling the materials, meaning that Yukoners will no longer have to pay when dropping those items off at a recycling centre or landfill.

“The bottom line for us is that more of this stuff is going to get diverted from our landfill and more of it is going to get recycled, and we just know that when e-waste and tires make it into the landfill, they just cause problems down the line,” Minister of Community Services John Streicker told media at Whitehorse’s Raven Recycling Monday morning.

Streicker and Raven Recycling’s executive director Joy Snyder were there to show off a newly-opened area in the facility’s yard where anyone can drop off unwanted electronics for free.

Outside of Whitehorse, e-waste can be dropped off at local recycling centres. Tires with a rim size of less than 39 inches can also be recycled for free at local waste facilities.

Snyder said that Raven Recycling is expecting an initial onslaught of old electronics that Yukoners have been holding on to before the number of items being recycled evens out. Raven Recycling will also be handling e-waste that’s been building up at smaller community landfills, where Whitehorse residents who didn’t want to pay the tipping fee at their local landfill may have taken their electronics.

“We sort of knew that that would happen and sort of planned for that as well,” she said.

A small line of people with e-waste had been awaiting staff when the facility opened Monday morning, she added.

The Yukon government currently has a year-long contract with Raven Recycling to handle the first phase of e-waste, with the possibility of extending it to three years. Streicker said following that, he will check with municipalities to see if the system is working before reissuing another contract.

Both Snyder and Streicker were hopeful that the new system will encourage Yukoners to recycle more.

“What happened previously is that people might not want to pay the fee, and so two things could happen. One is, sometimes it went out to our smaller community landfills, where they’ve been piling up … Or, it might mean that you throw it in the garbage,” Streicker said.

“…Now I think Yukoners are going to understand, ‘Oh, it’s fine, let’s just take it to Raven,’ or, if you live in a community, take it to your solid waste transfer station … We don’t want any of this stuff going into our landfills so it’s great that it’s being diverted.”

The idea of introducing an upfront surcharge to cover recycling costs in the Yukon, a scheme which exists in almost every other jurisdiction in Canada, has been years in the making. Streicker had announced a previous iteration of the surcharges in May 2017 with an implementation date of February 2018, but the Yukon government delayed the roll-out following outcry from local auto and electronics business owners who said they had not been properly consulted on the issue and that the fees would make them less competitive compared to Outside businesses.

The Yukon government subsequently held two town halls and had one-on-one conversations with business owners before updating and releasing a new fee schedule.

For electronics, the new surcharges range anywhere from 14 cents for a cellphone to $56 for a display larger than 46 inches, while for tires, the fees range from $5 for recreational vehicle tires with rim diameters between eight to 24 inches to $200 for large industrial tires.

A list of electronics that can be recycled at Raven Recycling can be found here. More information on where recyclables can be dropped off can be found here.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of executive director Joy Snyder’s name.

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