Step 4: Dispose of used equipment responsibly

Disposal of information technology and telecom equipment is a growing problem in Canada, and governments at all levels are working with the electronics industry to develop a national industry-funded take-back and recycling program for post-consumer electronics. The Canadian electronics industry is also designing cleaner products that contain fewer hazardous components and can be more easily upgraded or recycled.

Did You Know?

“Between 1992 and 2000, Canadians disposed of enough personal computers and monitors to fill approximately 1000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, but only about 10 percent was recycled or refurbished for reuse.”
Waste Management Guide for Small and Medium Enterprises

What can you do?

Equipment users have a fundamental role to play in the environmentally responsible disposal of office equipment.

The best choice when you no longer need equipment or decide to upgrade is to find out if it can be used by others:

  • Try to negotiate a trade-in or take-back with the manufacturer or dealer from whom you are purchasing new equipment.
  • Find an organization that is involved in electronic-equipment reuse. Some organizations will pay for certain components, handle others for free or charge a handling fee, depending on the age of the equipment.
  • Local schools or community groups may welcome a donation of a used computer, printer, fax machine, copier or scanner.

Did You Know?

The Computers for Schools program, led by Industry Canada, has already saved more than 350 000 computers from going to landfills.

If no one is interested in the equipment, send it for recycling, rather than to a landfill. Recycling prevents contaminants, such as lead, cadmium and mercury, from entering the environment when electronic equipment breaks down in a landfill. Recycling also supports the recovery and reuse of valuable commodities, such as steel, glass, copper, aluminum, plastic and precious metals.

In some parts of Canada, electronic waste recycling is mandatory. Check with your municipal or provincial/territorial government to see if it offers an end-of-life electronics recycling program. If not, use the Yellow Pages or the Web to find a recycling facility in your area.

Additional information on electronic waste management is available on Environment Canada’s Web site at www.ec.gc.ca. (select Pollution and Waste and then Waste Management).

Did You Know?

Environment Canada estimates that personal computers and monitors disposed of in Canada in 2005 contained the following:

  • 3012.0 t of lead
  • 4.3 t of cadmium
  • 1.0 t of mercury

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