Two e-waste recyclers from British Columbia were busted for illegally shipping waste to China this fall. One of these recyclers is a part of the same provincially approved certification program as UBC’s e-waste recycling company. UBC is now searching for a new recycler.
This timeline explains Canada’s position on exporting e-waste.
1989: The Basel Convention, created by United Nations Environmental Program, is adopted. It was developed in response to environmental concerns arising from the shipping of hazardous waste to developing countries and Eastern Europe. Canada signed it that day.
1992: The Basel Convention goes into force making it illegal for all countries who have signed and ratified the treaty to ship hazardous waste, including electronic waste, to countries not part of the convention, without special consent. Canada ratifies the Basel Convention four months later and fulfills its obligation to introduce federal regulations with the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste Regulations.
1995: The Basel Ban Amendment is adopted and added to the Basel Convention treaty after pressure from developing countries, some European countries and Greenpeace. It makes it illegal to ship hazardous materials from OECD countries to non-OECD countries, even for recycling purposes. It must be ratified by three quarters of the parties who accept it. Canada does not ratify the Basel Ban.
2005: The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste Regulations is replaced by the Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations
2006: Environment Canada releases a report saying that as of Nov. 1, 2005, 500,000 kg of waste containing hazardous materials, which was to be illegally shipped from the Port of Vancouver and sent to China, had been seized.
2007: British Columbia implements stewardship program where an Environmental Handling Fee is added to the sale of new electronics. Members of the stewardship programs, WCCIA and ESABC, receive a portion of this fee for recycling the e-waste properly.
2008: CBC National airs documentary revealing that a WCCIA recycler is illegally shipping e-waste to China.