WWF-Canada Blog:

Where does all the hardware go?

This place is called Hi Tech Recycling (Canada) Ltd. Last week, I took a short road trip with a few of my colleagues on the Sustainability at Work committee to see where exactly all of the old electronics from WWF’s Toronto office are taken. As we made our way just north of the city, we wondered what it would be like. “Do you think it’s just piles of computers? What can they possibly do with an old cell phone,” we wondered.

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We also reflected on the fact that we don’t often consider where things end up when we’re done with them – from batteries to broken glass to televisions.  Our green consciousnesses burned a bit as we realized that we need to think about this kind of thing from the moment we purchase everyday items. What is the life cycle of this DVD player – what did it take to make it and what will it take to dispose of it?

As we pulled up to the large warehouse, using our smart phones to navigate, we were pretty excited to find out more about where things like our iPhones and Blackberries will end up one day. “We’re really a glorified scrap yard,” joked Adam Freedman, owner of Hi Tech Recycling, as he greeted us and started the tour. “We acquire ‘junk’ from businesses and individuals around the city at no cost to them, and break everything down to sell individual parts. Plain and simple recycling. We realize the importance of keeping these materials out of landfills. In fact, 99.9% of what we bring in here is reused.” Amazing.

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It was, indeed, a warehouse full of piles of computer screens, towers, grocery store self-check-out machines, telephones, you name it. Hard-working and friendly staff were busy taking these items apart. I was particularly impressed by a huge box full of circuit boards, which are apparently very valuable because of the precious metals used to make them.  There were also many interesting finds like old payphones, antique computers, test equipment, and miscellaneous parts. “Those are the weird and wonderful items that we sell on eBay,” Adam explained. “Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure.”

As we drove away that morning, we were very impressed by the whole process at Hi Tech Recycling and are proud that WWF’s electronics are diverted from landfills.  It’s clear that as technology evolves and we have more and more gadgets, we need alternatives to just throwing things out. Companies that provide this service, like Hi Tech Recycling, are making a huge difference to the environment.

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To find out more about how to sign your office up for this service (or clean out that storage closet in your home), check out their website: http://www.hitechrecycling.com/