Breathing new life into old electronics

By Jordan Dionne, Special to The Record
Breathing new life into old electronics
(Photo : Matthew McCully)

The pandemic has surely increased peoples’ dependence on electronic devices. Work, school, and many aspects of life have transitioned to digital platforms.
But what happens when electronics die and is there a way to depose of them while protecting both the environment and the user’s privacy? That is the question addressed by the Association for the Recycling of Electronic Products of Quebec (ARPE-Quebec) which—through its Waste Reduction Week campaign from Oct. 17-25—will be promoting proper methods of recycling electronic devices.
Electronic devices are not conducive to environmental health when thrown in the trash. And when simply tossed into a recycling bin, they will still often end up in a landfill. Therefore, throughout Waste Reduction Week, the ARPE-Quebec is striving to raise awareness in the Eastern Townships as to where defunct electronics should end up at the end of their life in a way that is environmentally friendly.
According to Martin Carli, science spokesperson of the ARPE-Quebec, with the rise of teleworking in Quebec, it is essential that Quebecers do the right thing with computers or screens that have been replaced by new devices in recent months.
“What matters is taking the time to safely recycle our old devices by taking them to one of the 1,000 or so official drop-off points accessible free of charge in all regions of Quebec, including about 40 in [the Eastern Townships]. And why not take advantage of the fact that we are at home to clean the basement and also recycle our old televisions, DVD players and sound systems?” Carli said.
Many people are concerned about the security of their digital footprint left on these devices and whether data is secure during the recycling process. According to Marie-Pier Kenny, the public relations officer with the ARPE-Quebec, “Once [the electronics] are brought to the eco-centre or any authorized drop-off location, the important first step is the elimination of any personal data left on the devices.” Therefore, there is no need to take the device out back and smash it with a hammer; they elegantly take care of that for you.
“Given the exceptional sanitary measures in place, it is best to first make sure that the drop-off point near us is open before moving. If not, [the devices] can be kept at home temporarily. The important thing is not to throw them in the trash or put them on the curb or in a recycling bin,” Carli stressed.
In 2019 alone, Quebecers recovered an average of 2.5 kg each, which represents a total of more than 20,000 tonnes of electronic products recycled or sent for reuse.

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