Let’s face a sad truth: very few people dispose of their electronics in ways that are environmentally-friendly. Batteries, old iPods, broken laptops, and basically any kind of technology that isn’t being used anymore is going to end up in a landfill more often than it will be brought to a proper e-cycling depot.
On the same token, those of us who do bring our electronics to environmentally friendly recycling depots don’t give much thought to where exactly the electronics go after they leave our hands. Once they’ve been donated, we assume they are going to be disassembled and each recyclable part can be used again.
What’s A Cheaper Solution?
Unfortunately, a few businesses have been taking advantage of this trust, and instead of e-cycling the electronics, they will simply ship cargo containers full of old e-waste to Asia and Africa, with no intention of ever seeing the products reused. According to Cindy Coutts of Sims Recycling Solutions Canada, “It’s almost the cheapest way to get rid of this stuff”.
Two of the biggest culprits who have been caught yet are Jieyang Sigma Metal Plastic (for trying to ship 1,200 used batteries) and N.W. Cole Associate Appraisers (for trying to ship old computer parts). They faced $30,000 and $10,000 fines, respectively.
What Can We Do To Help
The good news is that this kind of e-waste outsourcing is being cracked down on. In addition to the two mentioned, Environment Canada has prosecuted others and have several other investigations ongoing. It is certainly sending the message that shipping our waste overseas won’t be tolerated.
If you’re looking for a local spot to donate your household e-waste to, Earth 911 is one of the best resources around – whether you want to get rid of old computer parts, or old paint buckets, they will tell you where to go. If you’ve got any questions about e-cycling in your area, just leave them in the comments and we will do our best to help you out.