Here’s what you need to know about recycling old electronics in British Columbia

Sep 19 2023, 8:59 pm

With the back-to-school season in full swing and the holiday shopping season approaching, Canadians will be seeking out new tech for the year ahead.

But what about all the old tech that you no longer need?

According to the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA), over 80% of Canadians polled have at least one end-of-life electronic device collecting dust at home. The truth is, many might not know how to dispose of old tech correctly, and it can end up piling into landfills or being illegally exported, creating environmental issues elsewhere.

As it turns out, getting rid of old tech responsibly in British Columbia is actually easier than you might think. There are two options: you can simply donate it, or recycle it with Return-It.

If you have an electronic that still works perfectly, consider giving it to others who may not have access to equipment at this time. If your electronics are truly at end-of-life, you can bring them to one of the many convenient Return-It Electronics Collection Sites across BC.

Return-It’s electronics program operates on behalf of EPRA BC with more than 300 collection sites across the province where you can drop off your end-of-life electronics

What can be recycled?


Accepted items at Return-It collection sites include televisions and monitors, cell phones and non-cellular telephones, home audio and video systems, desktop computers, laptops, video gaming systems, computer accessories, portable speakers, and more.

Even things that may not immediately spring to mind when you think of tech can be recycled — like electric guitars and keyboards, different electric medical equipment, or e-bikes and e-scooters. (You can check out the full list of accepted items here.)

How to prep your device


Prior to drop off, it’s a good idea to clear all personal information from computers, cell phones, and other electronics. You should also ensure all memory storage areas have been cleared of private information.

To find out how to do this you can check the manufacturer’s websites, the manual that came with your advice, or ask an expert.

What happens to your electronics


When you bring your old, unusable electronics to one of Return-It’s collection sites you prevent e-waste from being illegally exported or handled by irresponsible recyclers, decreasing environmental issues for the planet

The recycling process involves breaking electronics down to recover raw materials such as metals, glass, and plastics. These materials are usually separated into three categories.

First, there are non-hazardous materials like steel, aluminum, wood, and glass. Next, there’s electronic scrap such as cables and wires, hard drives, chips and other electronic components. And finally, there are substances of concern that need to be handled responsibly, including mercury, batteries, and lead.

All of the recovered materials are then put back into the manufacturing supply chain and used to make new products.

For more information, or to find your nearest Return-It collection site to responsibly recycle your obsolete electronics, click here.

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