Electronics Recycling: Myths and Facts

Now is that time of the year, between the excitement of the holidays and the flush of spring, that we often find a quiet moment for reflection. Now, you may not find yourself reflecting on the state of the electronics recycling industry in British Columbia, but I do. Quite a bit actually. Particularly today, I want to help dispel a few myths about electronics recycling in BC and hopefully help divert even more hazardous waste from reaching our landfills. 

Myth: Environmental Handling Fees are just a hidden tax by the government.

The fees are actually collected by the industry in accordance with the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA). The EPRA is a national not-for-profit entity that oversees the recycling of electronics in Canada. The fees do not go to the government at all. 100% goes to pay for the administration, collection, transportation and responsible recycling of electronics.

Myth: Recycled electronics simply get shipped overseas and dismantled in unsafe environments.

All electronics collected in BC at EPRA affiliated locations are sent to approved primary recyclers in North America. These facilities must adhere to strict standards for dealing with substances of concern (mercury, lead, etc.) and ensure that usable materials (glass, plastics, metals) are upcycled into the manufacturing stream. Not only that, but all of their downstream processors are also subject to the highest levels of adherence to environmental, occupational health and safety, export and other standards.

Myth: Electronic recycling processes are too expensive and not much can be salvaged anyway.

Actually, aside from cheaper materials such as glass and plastics, electronics contain many valuable metals that can be salvaged and recycled. This means less mining and destruction of the natural environment. Technologies for recycling e-waste are continually improving, leading to increased efficiency and sustainability of the programs.

Technology continues to advance at an incredible rate, which means that more and more waste is being produced. Thankfully we have a great, safe system for recycling electronics in BC. In fact, for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, all of the medals were produced using recycled electronic waste…amazing.

So, now we have no excuses. It’s time to bring in that old laptop, TV, VCR (why do you still have that?), camera, fax machine… or that annoying beeping and flashing kid’s toy that doesn’t work anymore. 

If after all this you still have questions, you can find more information on our website here: www.islandreturnit.com/electronics-recycling

Or, you can visit the EPRA BC website here: www.recyclemyelectronics.ca/bc