What is Electronic Waste and What can you do with it?

Posted by RecycleSmart Team on Oct 19, 2022 4:38:27 PM

Wondering why e-waste is so important to manage? As a non-standard item that can't be easily tossed into the blue bin and with the increasing volume of e-waste being generated every year by Canadians this waste stream is becoming a larger issue. From old smartphones to batteries, we are generating tons of old electronic devices and the pace doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. 


E-Waste is a waste type that is varied and wide-ranging

First of all, what is e-waste? E-waste is defined as old electronic products that are not wanted, either because they are not functioning, outdated or simply not wanted. This is a broad category including everything from old toasters to photocopiers. Here is a what is accepted in BC as an example. 

Screen Shot 2021-10-20 at 8.32.20 AM

Why can't I just toss my e-waste in the garbage can? 

The most dangerous elements found in e-waste would be mercury and lead. High levels of lead contaminate our air, water and soil. This then distorts brain development and poisons our central nervous system and kidneys. High levels of mercury create skin and respiratory disorders. Mercury poisoning also causes acute brain damages. You would be surprised to discover that these elements are commonly found in computers and remotes. Therefore, it's important to make sure our electronics are properly disposed of to avoid pollution. On the flip side, e-waste contains many valuable metals such as GOLD and other valuable metals. 

  • For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, the following amounts of precious metals can be recovered:
    • 16,000 kg of copper
    • 350 kg of silver
    • 34 kg of gold
    • 15 kg of palladium

Data courtesy of: https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=689


What should you do? 

Many RecycleSmart clients have taken the initiative to promote responsible e-waste management at their facilities. As a part of their continued effort to offer sustainable diversion programs to their valued tenants, our clients run an annual e-waste drive. Once a year, they place several bins on site for 2 weeks and encourage their tenants to drop off any electronics they need to dispose of responsibly. The Waste Wizards at RecycleSmart then arrange for the collection and certified recycling of the e-waste to ensure that the materials are recovered, and any waste disposed of properly. 



Drop off your e-waste at a depot or collection bin

If you aren't a RecycleSmart client yet (what are you waiting for? :) then another option is to find an e-waste drop off bin or collection site. An innovative and convenient solution from ElectroBac provides e-waste collection containers in convenient locations in office buildings, shopping malls and other public spaces across Canada. Check out their website for locations of bins. And it's a smart bin that automatically measure how full it is which we wholeheartedly approve of!


About Electrobac's e-waste smartbin


Get your e-waste picked up for Free!!

That's right, if you have enough of the right type of e-waste you could qualify for free pickup. That's as easy as getting a pizza delivered but instead of pizza, you'll be getting rid of that old TV with the faux wood cabinet and the 486DX Intel PC that you've been keeping just in case Windows 95 makes a comeback. There are a variety of organizations that offer free e-waste pickup across Canada, use your favorite search engine to find one in your city or town. The ERA (Electronics Recycling Association) is one example that provides free pickup in multiple cities across Canada with a focus on reuse, repurpose and recycling if there is no option to extend the life of a device. ERA operates drop off depots and pickup services in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg. 

Electronic Recycling Locations | Electronic Recycling Association


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