As our consumption of electronic devices increases, our need for electronic recycling is becoming more and more important in ensuring a sustainable future.
Electronics increased obsolescence rate
Cellphones, tablets, computers, e-readers, smart watches, tvs, printers, and all other connected devices we use everyday are constantly being improved by manufacturers like Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Toshiba, LG and other tech giants. Those advances are amazing for users, making our life easier and more convenient; but it is terrible for the environment. It increases pollution and mining necessary to manufacture those new devices, but also, and most importantly, our old electronic devices are too often being disposed of improperly, ending up in landfills or being shipped to developing countries.
What are my options for recycling electronics?
Some manufacturers, for certain high value products like cellphones, are developing trade-in programs to incentivize consumers to hand over their old devices when buying a new one. But what happens to those devices once you hand them over? Are they recycled properly? Are they taken apart to retrieve valuable ores? What happens to the less valuable parts like plastic and leaded glass? What about the products that don’t have manufacturers trade-in programs? How can you recycle those? Is your city waste disposal infrastructure able to recycle properly your used electronics? What is the impact of e-waste that end up in landfills?
So many questions for consumers to consider when disposing of their used electronics, answers to which vary widely depending on manufacturers, legislation and city infrastructures.
The real question is what can you do, as a responsible consumer, to ensure your e-waste is recycled properly?
The answer is: you need to be informed, understand how it works and know your options. It all starts with inquiring how trade-in programs work before using them, and researching what are the capabilities of your city waste disposal infrastructures in regards to electronics. You can also take matters in your own hands to find a local recycling facility that specializes in electronics.
Tips to choose a reputable recycling facility
Here are 3 questions to ask to make sure you select a reputable recycler:
- Are they certified?
Being certified means that the company was submitted to a third party review of their facilities, processes and practices. In regards to electronic recycling, the highest international certification is called R2, which includes a quality insurance component by requiring an ISO certification.
Certifications also exist to ensure a recycling facility knows how to handle and protect your data, one of them is NAID.
- Is their process transparent?
Look at their websites to see how they work and what they stand for. A company that makes the effort to articulate this information on their website is more reliable.
- Are their facilities secured, to ensure your data is protected before your devices are being recycled?
Your devices contain personal and sensitive information. If the device is not wiped properly by NAID standards, this information is retrievable by people with technical skills given the opportunity. You want to make sure your devices won’t be left unattended in a space that has public access, where they could be stolen.
Electronic recycling: How does it work?
Now that you know what your options are, have a look at this slideshow to better understand what happens to your electronic devices once they are dropped off.
How does recycling your electronics have a positive impact on the environment?
Learn more about the difference you make when you choose to recycle your electronics by visiting our Investing in Tomorrow – Environment section.
Every summer, we partner with Inorganic Market and the Toronto Public Library to visit the GTA communities to raise awareness around electronic recycling and to collect used electronics, so they can be recycled appropriately. Follow us on Facebook to know where we will be next.
Or come visit us at our public drop-off in The Junction Toronto.