Recycling System Background:
When compared to most other residential electrical and electronic equipment the major household appliances category is unique in that a long-standing and highly effective market-driven recycling system already exists. This market-driven system exists largely because end-of-life (EoL) major household appliances, unlike most other EoL electronic or electrical equipment, can actually have a positive financial value at end-of-life if efficiently collected and processed.
This positive financial value characteristic, which is driven by the metal value in the products, has given rise to a diverse market-driven collection and recycling system comprised of appliance retailers and their contracted service providers, scrap metal dealers, municipalities, metal recyclers and steel mills. This system has operated for decades and has proven itself to be flexible and adaptable to changing market conditions as well as highly effective in terms of its collection and diversion performance.
EoL major appliances are generally processed with automotive and industrial metals and delivered from small pre-processors to mid/large-scale processors and finally to end-markets for conversion into new products. Through fundamental supply/demand economics, this reverse logistics system achieves internationally leading efficacy in the absence of regulatory imposition or industry intervention.
Industry studies have determined that EoL major appliance stakeholders across Canada and North America can be separated into four main groups, based on their function within the handling chain. In some cases, a stakeholder may fill more than one role. General stakeholder groups by function include:
- Collectors - Provide a collection service either to promote their core business (e.g. retailers) or to sell the collected units into the recycling stream based on their material worth;
- Consolidators/Pre-Processors - Amass quantity in order to access mid or large-scale processors. Their geographic spread allows for province-wide capture from collectors;
- Mid/Large-Processors - isolate scrap material to suit the demands of end-markets. This may involve shredding, baling or combining EoL major appliances with other scrap metal to target purity levels;
- End-Markets - incentivize the system by valuating the feedstock based on provincial, national and international demand. International demand has a significant impact on the global scrap metal industry.
Industry studies have confirmed that the collection and diversion performance of the existing major appliances recycling system in Canada and the United States places these systems among the most successful in the world. These studies have found the overall collection rate to lie between 95% and 99% of all EoL major appliances entering the waste stream and the rate of material diversion from landfill has been found to lie between 83% and 89%. These performance measures are significantly higher than either the EU (approximately 40%) or Japan (approximately 50%) where traditional as opposed to market-based EPR systems for major appliances currently operate.