EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) – First came recycling; now there’s e-cycling.

The Alberta government has imposed a recycling fee that will tack on up to $45 onto the cost of electronic equipment such as televisions, computers and computer monitors.

Environment Minister Lorne Taylor said the fees are necessary to divert a literal mountain of electronic lead-bearing waste from landfill sites. In doing so, Alberta took a different approach than Maine, which has just enacted a law that will make it the first of the 50 states to force manufacturers to accept some responsibility for recycling electronic waste.

In Maine, manufacturers will be required to set up consolidation centers by January 2006 where towns can drop off computers and TVs they collect from residents. Towns may choose whether to participate in the program, and may charge small fees to cover the costs of temporary storage and shipping.

California has also taken steps to recycle e-waste, but that state’s system is based on $6 to $10 fees consumers pay up front.

Alberta’s fee, the first of its type in Canada, will add $15 onto the cost of televisions with screens under 19-inches and up to $45 for models with screens over 45 inches.

Taylor said he hopes the fees will divert 362,880 kilograms of lead from going into Alberta landfills every year.

“If you had the opportunity to be out to the Edmonton landfill today to see literally a mountain of electronic material out there, you would realize it’s not about fees; it’s about taking this toxic waste material out of landfills.”

Taylor said 190,000 TVs and 90,000 desktop computers are tossed into Alberta landfills annually and the hazardous materials they contain can cause significant environmental and health risks.

He noted Alberta led Canada in launching the first recycling program for beverage containers in 1972 and still leads the way in recycling efforts.

“Albertans care deeply about the environment,” he said. “This program will just enable them – no matter where they live in Alberta – to make sure their old and used electronics are a resource, not a risk, to future generations.”

The fee will be attached at the first point of sale, likely from the wholesaler to the retailer.

The Klein government is also signaling that recycling fees may be applied in the future to cell phones, stereos, VCRs, DVD players, fax machines and electronic games.

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