Let’s face it: with the holidays fast approaching, many of us use it as a time to replace old or out of date electronics from computers to phones and everything in between. If you are not planning on continuing to use your old gadgets and devices, make sure you dispose of them properly. As the infographic below demonstrates, not only are there valuable materials in your electronics but also, throwing many of them into landfill will leach toxic chemicals into lakes, rivers, streams and soil – usually close to where you live. While the infographic below is for the US, note that in Canada, e-waste collection is now available countrywide. Visit the EPRA website to find what you can recycle and where to drop it off in your province.
Archive for the ‘Electronics’ category
Here in Canada we’ve finally begun addressing the issue of electronic waste. As new phones and electronics make last year’s gadgets look passé, we ditch the ones we had for the newer, better models. Even if we hang onto our phones and computers for as long as possible, the majority of them have an average lifespan of 4-5 years — and by then, let’s face it, they’re ancient!
The EPRA — electronics product recycling association — has branches set up across the country, in every province except New Brunswick. Their job is to get electronics out of landfill and back into the production stream. Perhaps one of the most heartening principles of the EPRA is that it will not ship unprocessed electronic waste off-shore; we are dealing with it right here in Canada. We’re not perfect, but e-waste recycling, an industry-based initiative, is increasing so that more and more valuable and toxic metals and plastics are being removed from the waste stream and put back into the production stream.
In December I attended Construct Canada, attending seminars and looking for greener building materials and anything else that might stand out. One of the things that grabbed my attention was the ChargeSpot wireless charger. Pat Laureano, Founder and CTO of ChargeSpot, explained to me that it’s as simple as placing your dying phone on top of the logo indicating a charging spot.
Now, if you’re anything like me, when you go to meetings or conferences, you are constantly seeking out electrical outlets in hallways and conference rooms and racing to get there before others, pulling out your cord and adapter to recharge that baby, because, after all, who can live without a phone these days? As a writer my phone also acts as my recorder, camera, agenda and library. So, when it dies, I feel pretty darn useless.
When Pat started to explain the simplicity and ease of the ChargeSpot, I could immediately see the appeal of the product.
Starting October 1, 2012 there will be an Environmental Handling Fee (EHF) charged to a variety of new electronics purchased in Quebec. Quebec will join 7 other provinces which currently charge an environmental handling fee for safe disposal of electronic items.
What is an environmental handling fee?: An environmental handling fee is indicated on receipts for electronic purchases as an “EHF” with an associated cost. The fee covers the cost of recovering and recycling or processing that electronic once it reaches its end of life. The money goes to the Association pour le recyclage des produits electronique du Quebec (ARPE) which manages the program, identifies and certifies recyclers and processors of electronic waste, as well as funding drop-off centres where consumers and businesses can take their old electronics. The environmental handling fee will vary by product. The fee is meant to reflect the true cost of disposing the product.
Best Buy has a document on its website which outlines what the environmental handling fees are by product and province. Visit its website to learn more.
Where electronic items can be dropped off: There are several municipalities within Quebec that already operate drop-off centres for old electronics. These will continue to exist, but will now be funded by the ARPE. There is no charge for dropping off old electronics. Keeping them out of landfill is very important, however, given that there are many valuable metals within electronics that can be extracted and reused, as well as toxic materials that should not leach into the ground. Recycling is the most reponsible method of disposing of electronic devices.
In addition to municipalities already participating in e-waste recycling, Bureau en Gros (Staples outside of Quebec) also has drop-off depots for old electronics.
All e-waste is then collected and sent to certified recyclers and processors for recovery.
To find a list of depots and municipalities in other provinces, visit the EPRA homepage (Electronic Products Recycling Association) to find your province, items accepted for recycling and depots where you can drop them off.
What kinds of electronic and electrical devices can be recycled?: Below is a list of products that can currently accepted for safe disposal and recycling in Quebec. Hopefully the list will grow as the program becomes more established. (source)
- Laptop computer
- Notebook computer
- Tablet computer
- Netbook computer
- E-book readers
- Computer terminal
- Desktop computer used as a server
- Thin client or Net top Computers
- Computer monitor
- Professional display
- Closed circuit monitor screen
- TV with built-in DVD and/or VCR player/recorder
- All in one computer
Printers, Scanners and Fax Machines
- Desktop printers
- Desktop scanners
- Desktop MFDs
- Camera dock printers
- Desktop business card scanners
- Desktop cheque scanners
- Desktop computer scanners
- Desktop fax machines
- Desktop label, barcode, card printers
- Desktop photo negative scanner
Floor standing Print, Copy, Fax and Multi-Functions Product
- Floor standing printers
- Floor standing scanners
- Floor standing MFDs
- Floor standing fax machine drum scanners
- Floor standing fax machine photocopiers
- Floor standing fax machines
NON-Cellular Phones and Answering Machines
- Telephones (corded and cordless, VoIP, satellite phones)
- Telephone line answering machines (cassette and digital)
- Speaker/Conference phone
Cellular devices and Pagers
- Cellular phones, including those offering camera, video recording and/or audio functions
- Smart phones (cell-enabled)
- Palmtop computers (cell-enabled)
- Cell-enabled PDAs utilizing touch-screen technology
- Cell-enabled handheld devices
Nancy Wahl-Scheurich is the Co-Founder of Little Footprint Lighting, a lighting company that will launch its first product: the HeronLED Personal Task Light in the next few weeks. I caught up with Nancy at Greenbuild a few weeks ago to talk about this well-designed, low energy lamp.
The Design: As I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter how eco-friendly, green, low-impact, whatever you want to call it, a product is, if it’s not well-designed and appealing to the eye, it’s a wasted product. The HeronLED is in the shape of, you guessed it, the Great Blue Heron. It has a sleek design, and the nice little vents that contribute to its herron-like appearance aren’t just a design feature, they also provide the necessary heat venting for any well-functioning LED lighting system. The individual LED bulb uses 4 Watts of electricity but provides the same amount of light as a 30Watt incandesent bulb.
Perhaps one of the unique features of this lamp is that in the event that the bulb stops working before the end of its estimated 15 year life span, it is replaceable. One of the issues that Nancy found while working for an architectural LED lighting company, was that in many of the LED task lamps made today, the bulb is integrated into the entire design. If something ever went wrong with the bulb, you have to throw the entire light out, yes, including the lamp! How green is that? So Nancy and her business partner, Cecilia Lobdill, set about making a lamp with replaceable bulbs. It may seem obvious to us, but apparently it isn’t in the LED task lighting industry.
Material Use: Another goal that Nancy and Cecelia had was not just to make a lamp that used a small amount of electricity, but also to ensure that the manufacturing of the product was as low-impact as possible. To this end, the body of the lamp is made from 89% post consumer recycled plastic — and not just any post consumer plastic, but e-waste plastic. Nancy found a company northern California, that recycles e-waste to an extensive degree. Not only does it separate the metal from the plastic, but the company also separates all the different types of plastics that make up electronics into their individual plastics. In the Herron’s case it uses recycled ABS plastic (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, the same plastic that is used for Lego building blocks). The plastics recycling company processes the separated ABS plastic into a pellet that consisting of 89% recycled ABS plastic and 11% additives such as colourants. The plastic pellets are shipped down the road to the manufacturing plant in San Leandro, CA. It is uses the pellets in an injection moulding process, assembles the lamp with a steel base, made from 70% recycled steel from an American manufacturer, an LED bulb which contains a CREE chip — a high quality US LED chip manufacturer. Nancy told me that the LED bulb is made in Vermont at a company called LEDdynamics. I confess, I didn’t know there were any LED lighting manfacturers in Vermont.
The point of explaining how these desk lamps are made is to show you how much thought and effort has gone into this product. Little Footprint was out to make a well-designed, affordable, energy efficient, low-impact desk light. They even considered its end-of-life disposal. They’ve accomplished it all the while maintaining manufacturing of it within the US. To top it all off, the company offers a five year warranty on its product. Oh, and when the lamp has reached its end of life? It can be completely recycled again. Now that’s a perfect example of a “cradle to cradle” product.
Purchase: The lamp will be on the market as of the end of the end of November — early December, 2011. Currently they are taking advance orders and are selling it through their website for the early adopters price of US$145.99. It will regularly sell for US$195.99. The company ships to Canada and the product will carry the ETL/cETL listing mark showing compliance with Canadian and US electrical safety standards.