Kicking the Term E-waste to the Curb

Electronic waste, or E-waste, is a common term for unwanted, non-working or obsolete electronic products. It essentially means that these electronics have reached the end of their useful life. And since technology is advancing so rapidly, many of our electronics become “trash” after a few short years of use.

But there’s a problem with the term E-waste because nothing about these electronics is waste. All of our old technology, what we refer to as end-of-life electronics, is a resource that needs to be accessed and returned to usefulness.

Luckily, we have electronics recycling programs running throughout Canada that responsibly recycle our end-of-life electronics. In fact, Recycle My Electronics programs recycle approximately 15.5 million devices a year in this country helping keep approximately 100,000 metric tonnes of end-of-life electronics out of landfills.

Just think about some of these facts:

  • Recycling one million tablets yields:
    • 34 kg of gold
    • 350 kg of silver
    • 15 kg of palladium
    • 16,000 kg of copper

Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent of the electricity used by 3,657 homes in a year.

  • Recovering 10 kilograms of aluminum from recycled electronics uses 90% less energy than that required for primary production and prevents the creation of:
    • 13 kg of bauxite residue
    • 20 kg of CO2
    • .11 kg of sulphur dioxide emissions.

So as part of our overall conservation conversation, recovering resources that have already been accessed from the environment just makes sense. So now is time to change our mindset and to stop think about our end-of-life electronics as waste and see them for what they are – resources that need to be recovered and recycled.