As people upgrade their cellphones more often — particularly in light of the U.S. release of Apple's iPhone 5 on Wednesday — the job of dealing with no-longer-wanted devices has been growing.
At Lefebvre's Electronics in Sudbury, sales representative Andrew Mckillop said the store phone has been ringing off the hook, even though the arrival of the new iPhones at stores in the north is weeks away.
"[There are] a lot of calls [asking if] we have the iPhone," Mckillop said. "We should almost have recorded messages saying 'Yes' or 'No'."
When the phones do arrive, the hope is old ones will be recycled, not tossed into landfills.
The executive director of Ontario Electronic Stewardship, a provincial program for e-waste recycling, says dealing with electronic waste is a growing job.
The agency doesn't track whether popular product launches result in a wave of discarded phones, but Jonathan Spencer said the numbers do talk.
"Since we started in 2009, we have collected over 140,000 tonnes of electronic waste of all types," Spencer said.
"If I were to line that up, that would be a tractor trailer lineup from Toronto to Windsor."
Spencer said more than 1,000 of those tonnes have come from Sudbury and have been collected by stores and city landfill sites.
Manufacturers pay one cent toward recycling for every phone sold.
Spencer noted with 26 million cellphone subscribers in Canada, the penny is enough to cover the recycling costs.
"That tells you something about the number of cellphones in Ontario," he said. "So, we are seeing a lot of volume. People tend to turn over their cellphones every 18 to 20 months."
There are collection points for cellphones at various stores and city landfill sites around the north.
Spencer said the old phones are transported to approved recyclers, who extract valuable parts and safely dismantle the devices.