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Keepers of the Earth: Properly disposing of electronics goes beyond “just recycling”

 

Ever wonder what to do with your old iPod? You know, the one you shattered after dropping it on the kitchen tiles. Or where to bring that sweet Sony Discman still sitting in Ista’s basement that you can’t bear to throw in the trash? What about your last cell phone, which found its forever home in the junk drawer?

Alternatives to simply throwing it in with Friday’s garbage exist, if you make a little bit more effort to find them.

One such alternative I recently discovered was Electrobac. Electrobac is a company that accepts your unwanted, outdated and broken small electronic devices. Simply locate a bin near you, place your old electronics inside the bin and that’s it!

After collection, the items are brought to certified treatment centres where any personal data is thoroughly erased (i.e. on your old smart phone), and then either refurbished (if possible) or recycled. Materials such as glass, plastic and metals are used to make new products and harmful components such as mercury are disposed of properly.

The first Electrobac bin was implemented at the French university HEC Montreal in 2011 as a response to the lack of options for recycling everyday small electronic waste. Now with over 230 collection bins around the province in accessible places like grocery stores, schools and office buildings, disposing of your unwanted small electronics while minimizing your environmental impact is easier than ever.

The Electrobac bin is located at the Metro Plus grocery store at 5480 boulevard St. Laurent, Ste. Catherine. Less than 15 minutes from town! (Onawa K. Jacobs, The Eastern Door)
The Electrobac bin is located at the Metro Plus grocery store at 5480 boulevard St. Laurent, Ste. Catherine. Less than 15 minutes from town! (Onawa K. Jacobs, The Eastern Door)

And since Electrobac is also recognized by ERPA-Quebec (Electronic Products Recycling Association) as an official collection point, so you can be sure that your once-loved electronic goods will have a happy second life, or will be recycled properly.

Sound like too much hassle to find an Electrobac bin to ditch your old duds? Easier to just toss it in the garbage or leave it at the Kahnawake Recycle Depot for ‘them to handle?’ Well, consider the after-effects.

Electronics contain metals and chemicals such as nickel, lead, copper, mercury and arsenic. As they sit in landfills (or even worse, as litter on our local roadsides), they release these toxic elements back into the earth, poisoning our land, rivers, animals and eventually, us.

Over time, build-up of these metals and chemicals in one’s body can result in scary health conditions such as neurological issues, bone problems and cancer. Yikes!

What’s more is that these unwanted electronic items sometimes fall into the wrong hands and end up being illegally exported to other countries to become this and other problems there as well.

ERPA-Quebec estimates that it keeps roughly 100,000 metric tonnes out of landfills each year. By making the effort to bring your old electronics to collection points such as the Electrobac bins, you are keeping that much hazardous waste out of our environment and supporting green jobs right here in the province.

Have some small electronics to get rid of today? Visit www.electrobac.com/en to find a bin location that’s convenient for you. For larger items like TVs, computers, VCRs and more, head to http://recyclemyelectronics.ca/qc/ for more information on other collection points.

Do your part to leave a smaller footprint on Mother Earth now.

Onawa K. Jacobs
Onawa has 10 years of experience working with youth and adults in the fields of education and career counselling. Since 2013, she has been working as an Employment & Training Counsellor with Tewatohnhi’saktha. Her skills and interests are multi-disciplinary; also working as the Art Integration Specialist for the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre’s Expansion & Renovation Project and as an environmental columnist for The Eastern Door. She is committed to the betterment of her community on many fronts: education, labour force, economic welfare, preservation of language and culture, and the environment, and aims to be part of the helping profession for many years to come.
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