Most people replace their computers, monitors, printers, and other electronic devices every 3-5 years. Some high-performance items like games, cell phones, and palm computers are often replaced every year or two.
This high turnover makes electronic waste an increasing and significant problem, especially since they contain significant amounts of lead and heavy metals that are dangerous to the environment, as well as some other metals (gold, silver, palladium) that have solid value in recycling, as well as other metals, glass and plastic
There are a number of Electonics Recycling Programs across Canada:
- Alberta was the first province to mandate electronic recycling, established in 2004. The province has 180 collection sites where people can drop off their computers, computer equipment, printers and televisions. The program is funded by environmental fees collected on electronics at the time of purchase.
- Saskatchewan has its SWEEP program since 2007, also provides collection sites across the province where residents can drop their desktop computers, laptops, printers and televisions off for recycling.
- B.C. offers a similar Return-It electronics recycling program.
- In Nova Scotia, the electronics recycling program currently recycles televisions, monitors, printers and computers. In 2009, phones, cell phones, scanners, faxes, DVD players and stereos will be added to the list of recyclables, with recycling fees set by industry.
- Other Atlantic provinces such as New Brunswick also have recycling programs for computer equipment and other electronics in the works. In the meantime, The Westmorland-Albert Solid Waste Corporation in New Brunswick continues to provide electronics recycling for residents around Moncton.
- Ontario and Quebec don't yet have provincial computer recycling programs, but electronics recycling is offered in many municipalities. For example, the Electronic Recycling Association is active in Montreal and Toronto, while Ottawa has its own Take It Back! Program for electronics, with 500 Ottawa retailers involved.
Another alternatives to sending your computer to the landfill is to pass it on to a willing school or charity. You can also put a notice on a community bulletin board offering your computer free for the taking. Many people without a computer will still find use with the word processor and basic programs.