What Happens to Your Old Tech When It's Recycled?
It has never been easier to get rid your old or unwanted gadgets. You can simply visit recycleMYelectronics.ca, type in your postal code or address and find one of the many drop-off locations near you. From smartphones, tablets and computers to televisions and audio gear, you can be properly recycled through this not-for-profit organization. But what exactly happens after you bring electronics to an authorized Recycle My Electronics drop-off location? They go through several steps, all outlined below. 1. Drop-off centres As you see on the map at recycleMYelectronics.ca, end-of-life tech can be dropped off at many nearby retail stores, municipal locations (such as some government buildings), and special collection events. There are more than 2,300 authorized locations across Canada as part of the Recycle My Electronics program. This is the first step: bringing in your old and end-of-life tech to be properly recycled. And it's free to drop it off as you already paid a small Environmental Handling Fee (EHF) when you purchased the electronics, which is used to fund the program.2. Transport to recycling centres It doesn't take too long for these big bins to fill up with all kinds of consumer electronic products. Once all items are collected and sorted, they are sent to an approved recycling facility for mechanical dismantling and the removal of any substances of concern for proper downstream management. Materials in more remote locations are first transported to a consolidation depot for efficiency (and to reduce the carbon footprint), before they're sent to a recycling centre.3. Mechanical disassembly These approved recycling centres break down your old gadgets and gear, the raw materials that went into them are then harvested, including glass, plastics and precious metals like gold and copper. The Recycle My Electronics program requires that all recyclers actively maintain appropriate environmental, health, security and safety controls (all workers wear head-to-toe protective gear, for example). On a related note, even if you forget to erase data from your devices (from smartphones, tablet and computers), all drives will be shredded, so you don't have to worry about your data being exposed.4. Downstream recycling Downstream recycling (or "down-recycling") simply refers to giving materials a second life. As the final step in the process, materials are separated into different streams to recover - such as metals, plastics and glass - so they can be processed into new products. Believe it or not, experts estimate that recycling 1 million mobile phones can recover 24 kg of gold, 250 kg of silver, 15 kg of palladium and more than 9,000 kg of copper. While the resources in electronics need to be recovered and recycled it isn't safe to try to recover them from your individual device. Not only is it dangerous, but there's not enough resources in that one device to make it worth while. But when you multiply those tiny amounts of resources metal by the hundreds or thousands of devices collected, it adds up.The Recycle My Electronics program only works with recyclers who have been verified under the national Electronics Recycling Standard (ERS), which guarantee end-of-life-electronics are managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner.