March 2018 marks the one-year anniversary of the electronics recycling program launching in New Brunswick, the ninth province to leverage the electronics recycling program administered by the Electronics Product Recycling Association (EPRA). EPRA is the not-for-profit, industry-led organization responsible for recycling end-of-life electronics and electrical products throughout Canada and is pleased to service this fully bilingual (French and English) province of approximately 750,000 residents.
In its first year of operations, EPRA New Brunswick has opened more than 60 drop-off locations throughout the province, making it convenient for all New Brunswickers to recycle their end-of-life electronics. By visiting recycleMYelectronics.ca/NB and entering their postal code, residents will be directed to the drop-off location nearest them.
Beyond convenience, other reasons inspire residents to recycle electronics. If there is one thing all New Brunswickers understand, it’s the value of our natural resources. When we think about our end-of-life electronics and why we need to recycle them, a compelling reason is resource recovery. Our electronics are filled with resources like gold, silver, copper and palladium that need to be recovered, recycled and put back into the manufacturing supply chain.
In addition to environmental benefits associated with resource recovery, electronics recycling also generates revenue for collection sites across New Brunswick and contributes to the green economy.
Raising awareness, increasing engagement
One focus of the new program is increasing consumer participation through addressing the heightened public awareness of personal data and security. In the EPRA New Brunswick program, steps are taken right from collection through to recycling to ensure safe and secure handling of the product. In the recycling process, all elements including the data-bearing components are recycled back to commodities for use in the manufacture of new products.
Of course, residents should be sure to clear all personal information from their computers, tablets and other electronics in order to protect their privacy prior to dropping off for recycling. That means ensuring all memory storage areas have been cleared, including removing the SIM card from cell phones, and ensuring the account services for any device have been deactivated.
Consumers can also consult manufacturers’ websites or the owner’s manual and download data erasure software or data shredding apps. By visiting this webpage, they can learn more information on how to prepare their device for recycling.
Protecting workers and the environment
EPRA and Recycle My Electronics are committed to recycling end-of-life electronic products collected through its network of drop-off locations in a responsible manner. To ensure this, Recycle My Electronics only works with recyclers who have been verified under the national Electronics Recycling Standard (ERS), which was designed by the electronics industry to ensure that end-of-life electronics are managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner. EPRA-approved processors must meet over 150 stringent safety protocols to ensure the safety of both their employees and the environment.
Once end-of-life electronics are collected at Recycle My Electronics drop-off locations, they’re sorted and sent to an EPRA-approved recycling facility for dismantling and the removal of any substances of concern for proper downstream management. All other materials are separated into different streams to recover the recyclable materials – including metals, plastics and glass – so they can go back into the manufacturing stream to be processed into new products.
When consumers bring their end-of-life electronics to any Recycle My Electronics drop-off location throughout New Brunswick, they’re ensuring several things occur. Resources are recovered and recycled and put back into the manufacturing supply chain. E-waste is kept of out of Canadian landfills and prevented from being illegally exported or handled by irresponsible recyclers. Finally, they’re ensuring that all workers’ and handlers’ health and safety is protected.
Taking the message to the people
As this first-year anniversary approaches, EPRA is planning even more Recycle My Electronics collection events throughout the province, featuring the Recycle My Electronics Mobile Classroom. The Mobile Classroom is a fun and educational, immersive environment filled with games, quizzes and videos about end-of-life electronics recycling and doubles as a mobile electronics collection site.
For educators, students and families, there are free and fun learning resources about the value of recycling electronics at the Recycle My Electronics Learning Hub.
As we build public engagement and drive end-of-life electronics recycling throughout the province, we, along with all New Brunswickers, celebrate the successes of this past year. New Brunswick is a new player on the electronics recycling scene, the momentum is strong and we’re delighted to join the other EPRA Canadian programs in delivering safe, secure recycling.
Karen Ulmanis is program director for EPRA New Brunswick.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Resource Recycling, Inc. If you have a subject you wish to cover in an op-ed, please send a short proposal to [email protected] for consideration.
Top photo credit: Jiri Flogel/Shutterstock