The Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) is a not-for-proft organization that focusses on the proper recycling of electronic products to ensure health and safety is not compromised when dealing with these items.
EPRA operates regulated recycling programs across Canada to ensure that end-of-life electronics are handled in a safe, secure, and environmentally-sound manner.
Electronic devices cannot be recycled in the same manner as other items, nor can they be thrown in the garbage, due to what is inside electronic items. These devices are filled with resources that can be reused and recycled.
Through the EPRA/Recycle My Electronics network of over 2,500 drop-off locations throughout Canada, the program ensures that the resources in electronic devices are safely recovered for reuse, helping to preserve the environment. Drop-off at EPRA/Recycle My Electronics locations is free of charge.
EPRA keeps 100,000 metric tonnes of old electronics out of landfills each year with end-of-life electronics being dropped off at authorized collection sites and has diverted approximately 100 million devices from landfills and illegal exports since the program began.
Products dropped off at EPRA locations are then sent to audited and approved specialized cyclers for processing. New technology is used to break down old technology and harvest the raw materials that went into them, including glass, plastics, and precious metals like gold and copper.
EPRA wants to ensure the substances inside electronic devices are handled responsibility to protect both the environment and the health and safety of the workers handling them. Recovered materials are then put back into the manufacturing supply chain and used to make new products.
The Olympic and Paralympic games have been using an increasing amount of metal recovered from end-of-life electronics in their medals. Beginning in Vancouver with 1.5 per cent and then 30 per cent in Rio. The medals for the next games in Tokyo will be made with 100 per cent received metals from end-of-life electronics.
When the resources are recycled correctly from electronic devices they can be reused over and over again without losing their properties, in turn helping to reduce the carbon footprint and lessening the dependence on traditional mining for new resources.
EPRA/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. These processors must meet over 150 safety protocols to ensure the safety of their employees and the environment.
This means that all EPRA/Recycle My Electronics recyclers are prohibited from exporting electronics or substances of concern to non-OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations.
Bring old end-of-life electronics to EPRA-authorized locations helps to:
Keep old electronics out of landfills.
Prevent them from being illegally exported or handled by irresponsible recyclers.
Recover and recycle valuable resources that can be put back into the manufacturing supply chain.
Ensure the safe and secure destruction of personal data stored on hardware.
Protect health and safety of workers and handlers.
With the importance of electronic devices in everyday life, EPRA was to ensure there isn’t piles of these dangerous electronics sitting in landfills and harming the environment. EPRA believes using and enjoying electronics today, also means responsibly recycling them for a cleaner tomorrow.
Electronic devices that can be recycled at EPRA drop-off locations:
Display devices (televisions, monitors, flat panels, etc).
Home audio/video systems.
Desktop computers, portable computers, and computer peripherals.
Desktop printers/multi-function devices.
Personal/portable audio/video systems.
Home theatre in-a-box systems.
Vehicle audio/video systems.
Countertop microwave ovens.
Vide gaming systems and peripherals.
Floor-standing photocopiers/multi-function devices.
Personal portable GPS and vehicle GPS.
External storage drivers and modems.
Desktop and portable scanners.
EPRA Program Director Gayleen Creelman emphasizes how important it it to take electronic devices to drop-off locations rather than putting them in the blue bin or garage because of the harmful resources that are inside them.
“These types of electronics cannot be recycled in the blue bin like regular recyclable products,” said Creelman. “What’s on the inside of electronics can have lasting impacts on the environment if not dealt with in the correct manner.
“Instead of having electronics in a landfill negatively effecting the earth, our programs handle them in an environmentally friendly way and can use those resources that are inside them. Not only are we correctly handling and disposing of electronic devices for the environment and keeping them out of landfills, but we’re getting those valuable resources out of them.
“If electronics are just thrown into the garbage it becomes a safety risk,” she said. “The glass can break and cause damage, the resources on the inside can cause damage, and it’s waisting important products that can and should be recycled. The resources inside electronic devices like lead can be very dangerous and should be dealt with carefully. Throwing these products in with the regular garbage will likely end up breaking them and having their contents leak which is obviously a major concern.”
There are drop-off locations all over Canada, including eight within an 100 kilometre radius of Moosomin. Creelman says there’s an easy to use location finder on their website for anybody in need of dropping off electronics.
“On our website (recyclemyelectronics.ca), you can find a list of all the EPRA-authorized drop-off locations near you,” she said. “Also on EPRA.ca there’s a thorough explanations as to who we are and what we do, why the proper recycling of electronic devices is important, there’s a learning hub and activities for children, a list of all the electronic devices that can be recycled through us, FAQs, a step by step explanation of how to wipe your devices before recycling them, and plenty of interactive options like seeing the journey of an end-of-life electronic.”
Creelman knows people often forget about old electronics as they pile up in their homes, but EPRA’s program allows for a quick, easy, and free option to get rid of electronic devices and their accompanying electronic equipment.
“Everybody has that drawer in their house filled with old junk,” she said. “I’m guilty of it too. Those drawers filled with old electronic devices like cellphones or cords—we recycle the paraphernalia for electronic devices like chargers, headphones, cables, etc.—people let those gather dust in their homes because they don’t know what to do with them. If you take them to our EPRA drop-off locations, we deal with them safely and then they’re not taking up space in your house. Nobody wants to have old monitors sitting around that they have no need for anymore.”
Electronic devices can be detrimental to the health of the planet says Creelman, but with today’s technology, the proper recycling of them ensures there are less environmental concerns and that the resources from them can continue to benefit the industry as they’re reused.
“When electronics end up in landfills they emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and other harmful toxins. Safely and securely recycling electronics ensures the recovery of reusable resources and reduces our carbon footprint by preventing greenhouse gas emissions, but also prevents illegal export and handling by irresponsible recyclers.”
Rob Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator