What to Do with Old Computers

Upgrading to a new computer can be fun and exciting. There is new technology arriving out there faster than anyone can keep up. On the other side of this phenomenon is the rate at which we now dispose of computers and other electronic waste (e-waste). According to Environment Canada, ??an estimated 140,000 tonnes of e-waste are discarded annually in Canadian landfills, and this number continues to increase.? (Statistics Canada, 2002)

While handing-down your computer can be an option, most of this e-waste is simply buried in landfills. E-waste contains toxic materials such as lead, mercury, arsenic and chromium, all of which are known or suspected to harm wildlife and human health. This waste is much better handled through controlled recycling processes.

Here in BC a recycling program for computers is only months away. By summer 2007, an Electronics Recycling Stewardship Program is expected to be launched. This province-wide computer recycling program will operate similarly to other provincial stewardship programs. An environmental handling fee will be charged at point of purchase (retailers) and this fee will fund the collection and transportation fees associated with the program.

For the start of the program, computers (including mice, keyboards and cables) and television sets will be included in the program. Other electronic products are expected to be added as the program progresses. The details on collection points are not yet finalized but will be publicized closer to the program launch.

At the regional Trade Shows in April, the Waste Reduction Office booth will have the latest information available on this exciting new stewardship program. Also at our booth you will find information on natural alternatives to yard and garden products, as well as drop-off boxes for recycling household batteries and cell phones (More details next month). For more information on this topic or other waste reduction issues, contact the Waste Reduction Office : www.prrrdy.com or 1-888-689-6328