While you’re enjoying the new toys from Christmas, those discarded electronics are gathering dust and cluttering up your home. Unless you plan to audition for A & E Hoarders you’re probably wondering how to get rid of them. Walking them to the curbside or throwing them in trash is NOT an option. Fortunately there are plenty of other options for your old toys.
Not ordinary garbage
Today’s electronics are a complex mix of components (a mobile phone has between 500 to 1000 components). Many of contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium and other hazardous chemicals that when sent to a landfill or incinerator pollute our soil, water and air.
We need to clean up our act!
Sadly, Canadians are sending an estimated 272,000 tons of e-waste to landfills and the UN estimates there is 50 million metric tonnes e-waste per year worldwide. Jim Puckett, Director of the Basel Action Network, an environmental advocacy organization, estimates that close to 90 percent of our e-waste is exported to China and Nigeria. There low-paid workers (many of them young children) use whatever means available to strip down the electronics for their copper, microchips, aluminum, gold and silver and plastic—anything that can be resold. Guiyu cityin Southeastern China has become known as the e-waste city and its citizens are slowly being poisoned.
Fortunately, there are some great alternatives if you want to become greener with your electronics.
Best Buy has a comprehensive recycling program with in-store stations where you can drop off your MP3 players, batteries, cellphones and ink cartridges for recycling. Some stores will take larger items as well. Check with your local branch to determine what items they take.
Alternative choice #2: Send them back to school
If your computer still has some life it in, consider donating it to the Computers for Schools (CFS) Program, a national, federal government-led initiative across the country that collects, repairs and refurbished donated computers from public and private sector. These computers are given a new lease on life and distributed throughout Canada to schools, public libraries, not-for-profit learning organizations and Aboriginal communities. Co-foundedin 1993 by Industry Canada and the TelecomPioneers its rescued 1,100,000 computers from landfills.
Alternative choice #3: Donate it
The Electronic Recycling Association will arrange for pick up computers and other electronics. They refurbish computers for Senior Centres and daycares across the country.
Recycle My Cell is Canada's national recycling program for mobile devices. You can arrange for a envelope to be sent to your home and you can mail in your old hand-held device. The company will ensure it’s disposed of in an environmentally manner and works with charitable organizations to recycle cells.
Alternative choice #4: Give it away
Put up a post onkijijji or freecycle offering your electronic for free. Many artists advertise on these sites looking for old electronics for their projects.
Alternative choice #5: Get it picked up
Contact the manufacturer and ask them to take back your product. Many of the large manufacturers have created end-of-life programs to pick up their products. Click on the company names to find out more about their end-of-life pick up programs:
Sony: Drop off any handheld Sony product at any **competitor** or larger equipment at a recycling centre, free of charge.
Dell: Ask for a recycling box that you can pack up your computer and get it picked up, free of charge. This is a terrific recycling program where they send you the recycling box and you package your old computer and they pick it up.
HP: Mail it your printer cartridges and arrange for a pick up of your printer and computers.
Samsung: Your cell phone and other device will be shipped to a responsible recycler.
Apple: Recyle your iPod or iPhone and get a gift card. Bring your battery to the store for recycling or call them for a laptop pickup. For $30 you can recyle your computer and battery
Don’t be shy about contacting your manufacturer and asking if they are participating in the non-profit Electronics Product Stewardship Canada. Ask them about their recycling program and request they take back your product.
Whatever you do, don’t put throw you old electronics into the garbage. Do the right thing for Planet Earth, go green and enjoy your new toys guilt-free!