Background:

The Major Appliance Recycling Roundtable (MARR) stewardship plan includes a commitment to conduct operational system studies on the operation and performance of the market-driven recycling system for end-of-life major appliances in British Columbia. The first of these studies was conducted in the fall of 2013 by Ecoinspire Planning Services, Maura Walker and Associates, Morrison Hershfield and Kelleher Environmental.

The executive summary and full report of the Study on the Operations and Effectiveness of the Major Appliance Collection and Recycling System in British Columbia are available for download.

Objectives:

The operational system study looked to:

  • Identify the parties involved in collecting major appliances in BC;
  • Define the specific operating characteristics and material flows within the BC system;
  • Summarize the processing practices and technologies used within the system;
  • Quantify the overall collection and diversion performance of the existing system; and
  • Determine how often and at what levels fees are charged to end users for collection.

Methodology:

The study involved extensive surveying and interviews of stakeholders involved in major appliance collection and recycling, including:

  1. A survey of 125 retailers of major appliances and in-depth interviews with 22 retailers;
  2. Interviews with all Regional Districts involved in solid waste management and all 22 municipalities that offer their own major appliance collection service;
  3. Interviews with 99 private collection sites, 5 peddlers and 4 refurbishing companies;
  4. Interviews with the two utility bounty programs for refrigerators run by the two main electric utilities in BC;
  5. Interviews with 17 property managers and property management associations to identify practices at multi-family buildings;
  6. Interviews with 4 processors; and
  7. Interviews with industry leaders in the scrap metal field (including the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries, the Automotive Recyclers Environmental Association and brokers).

Results:

The results of the System Study showed that the vast majority of British Columbians, 93.6% of the entire BC population, have free and reasonable access to a drop off location for recycling of their end-of-life major appliance. This analysis considered only collection sites in BC that accept all categories of major appliances, and applied the driving times set by the Stewardship Agencies of BC (30 minutes for urban communities and 45 minutes for rural communities) to determine the level of accessibility.

Using the information obtained from the surveys and interviews conducted, as well as a Lifespan Model developed by the consultants, they were able to estimate that 35,699 tonnes were collected of 36,248 tonnes available, or that 98% of major appliances available to collect were captured through the existing market driven system in 2012.

The collected appliances were then sent for processing, primarily at two metal shredders located in the lower mainland, where 75% of the weight of the appliances was recovered for recycling, resulting in an overall recycling rate of 74% for major appliances.

MARR feels that these results speak strongly to the success of the existing recycling system for major appliances in BC.