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This sub-section looks at the role and responsibility of the federal and some provincial governments. It presents the research, analysis and monitoring done by various federal and provincial departments.
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Bold Government Leadership Is Needed
When it comes to dealing with electronic waste and to developing technology to reduce our environmental burdens,...
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Small is Beautiful in New Brunswick
Governments play a vital role in protecting the environment.
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Bold Government Leadership Is Needed
Miriam Diamond’s current research focuses on urban contaminants. Wondering what her children might be exposed to growing up in a large urban centre sparked Diamond’s innovative approach to measuring and modelling the sources, fate and potential health effects of chemical contaminants in cities. Diamond has collected contaminant data on everything from soil to window panes. She is now keeping a close eye on indoor pollution. Canadian Geographic awarded her Environmental Scientist of the Year for 2007.
When it comes to dealing with electronic waste and to developing technology to reduce our environmental burdens, government intervention is essential.

Q : What is being done in Canada with waste from computers, cellphones and other electronic equipment?

A : E-waste, or electronic waste, is a big problem. Canadians produce about 140,000 to 170,000 tonnes per year of e-waste that includes old cell phones, computers, printers and other discarded electronic equipment. The Federal Government, through Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Industry Canada, is working with industry to develop programs that will recycle and re-use electronic equipment. This will keep at least some of the e-waste from landfills. So far, the industry-led programs are voluntary, and it is not clear how much e-waste is being diverted from landfills. It also is not clear how quickly the program will be up and running and if it will be available to all Canadians.

E-waste is valuable because of the metals that can be extracted from the discarded products. The metals in e-waste are also very toxic, such as lead, cadmium and nickel. Canada has signed the Basel Convention that should prevent us from shipping any hazardous waste (such as e-waste) to other countries, notably poor countries in Africa or Asia, however, there is concern that at least some of our e-waste is sent to these countries via the U.S., which has not signed the Basel Convention.

In response to mounting concerns about the shipping of e-waste to poor countries, several provinces have or are enacting their own legislation to promote product recycling and re-use. Unfortunately this leaves Canada with a patch-work of legislation and policies.

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