Responsible Recycling

Avoiding the Garbage When it Comes to Old Electronics

Katherine Lissitsa
30 August 2019

Between a cell phone, a tablet, a laptop or a television, the average Canadian juggles a lot of technological devices on a daily basis. But we all know that these nifty gadgets don’t last a lifetime — sooner or later they end up in the trash, either because they stop working or because we just can’t resist getting the latest model.

Thing is, the garbage might not be the best way to go when it comes to getting rid of old technology.

Although updating your tech is a common practice, the problem is that electronic waste has been on the rise in Canada. According to the most recent report from Statistics Canada, around 10,000 tonnes of electronics was thrown out in 2004, but by 2012, the number leaped to over 71,000 tonnes of electronic waste.

It’s not all bad news, however. While it’s true that tech has been increasingly ending up in the garbage, recycling practices have also been on the up and up.

Alberta was the province that paved the way to tech recycling. The Alberta Recycling Management Authority was established 15 years ago and operates to this day, helping people get rid of their electronics in a sustainable way. Albertans can take their old TVs, computers, laptops, tablets or printers to one of the province’s 372 recycling depots. The electronics are then collected and disassembled by registered Electronics Processors, and materials such as metal, plastic and glass are sold to manufacturers to create new products.

Once Alberta launched its recycling program, all other Canadian provinces followed suit. Operating in a similar way, a program called Recycle My Electronics established collecting sites in nine provinces across the country where people can drop off their tech for safe recycling.

On top of computers and printers, Recycle my Electronics takes in phones, audio systems, musical instruments, medical equipment, gaming devices, battery-powered toys and more*. Both individual residents and whole businesses can take advantage of their services, which makes recycling old tech clearly accessible.

And as important (as we think) it is to learn about recycling practices, we’re not just doing this out of the blue. Kids Code Jeunesse has been recently giving out micro:bits — small, programmable computers — to teachers and students across the country. Our main objective is for them to get used as much as possible, so that people can hone their coding skills in fun and interactive ways. But we recognize that even exciting devices like micro:bits are not resistant to wear-and-tear and there may come a time when you will no longer use it.

On that note, we encourage everyone whose micro:bit is collecting dust to check out their local electronic recycling site and see if they can drop it off. And as an alternative to recycling, you can also lead by our example and donate. Not everyone in Canada can afford new technology, so by giving away your used micro:bit to a charity or a non-profit organization, you can give it a new life in the hands of someone who will enjoy it as much as you did!

*Refer to your province’s Recycle My Electronics website to find out which products you can recycle.