Electronic waste a growing concern

By Marino Greco
Biz/Tech reporter
Humber Sustainability encourages responsible disposal of E-Waste (Photo by Marino Greco)

Humber Sustainability encourages responsible disposal of E-Waste (Photo by Marino Greco)

Electronics that can and should be recycled are collecting dust in basements across the GTA.

Humber College held an e-waste drive this Wednesday in a bid to raise awareness about waste diversion and properly recycle some broken and unused technology.

The drive was a co-venture between Humber Sustainability and the Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES), a non-profit organization mandated by the government to uphold the responsible recycling of e-waste.

E-waste wasn’t being recycled in an ethical or responsible way until the OES took over in 2009, according to Sharon Smith, supervisor of field operations for the OES.

“They were being stripped for the valuables and the rest of it was left strewn across the landscape in places like Africa and Asia,” said Smith.

“The government mandated us to close the borders in Ontario so things didn’t leave until they were shredded, smelted, and ground down so that they could go back into remanufacture,” she said.

It wasn’t just students who came out to support the drive. Neil Mathur, a Humber instructor who teaches radio broadcasting, brought in old headphones and a variety of cables.

“I think this is something that needs more publicity. There is no awareness when you throw something away. Where do all of our phones and tablets go? Most of them, I suspect, go to landfills,” said Mathur.

Unfortunately, publicity isn’t the only issue affecting the disposal of e-waste. Outright laziness is also a concern.

“It’s a convenience thing,” said Smith. “People… might put it on their curb and be satisfied that somebody has removed it with no regard to what’s actually happening to it once it’s removed.”

Students are becoming more aware of the impact of dumping electronics, said Amanda Shaw, a University of Guelph-Humber media studies student and a Humber Sustainability marketing employee.

“If you remind them, they will remember,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of young students come in today talking about how this is something people care about and they want to learn more about it.”

To find an electronic waste drop-off location visit www.recycleyourelectronics.ca/.