Managing Director, Electronic Recycling Association
By refurbishing used electronics, the Electronic Recycling Association is helping to reduce e-waste and support groups in need.
If you’re eager to get rid of that unused laptop, cellphone, or electronic device, the Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) will gladly and safely take it off your hands.
The Electronic Recycling Association is a non-profit organization specializing in electronics recycling in Canada and across North America. Since its inception in 2004, the ERA has been working to address the growing problem of e-waste and the growing digital divide by accepting retired electronics and IT assets from individuals and organizations, securely erasing the stored data, and refurbishing them for donation to charities and other groups in need.
To continue this mission, the ERA needs a steady supply of electronics donations, which have slowed since the pandemic. Mediaplanet recently spoke with Andrew Wesolowski, Director of Operations at ERA, to learn more about their environmental and social purpose and how you can help.
What’s involved in your electronics recovery process?
First, we determine whether the device can be reused. If it can, we start by safeguarding the donor’s data through our data erasure software or physical hard drive destruction, which we can do at our facility or the donor’s site. Once the data is securely removed, our experts refurbish the device to give it a second life. Suppose the piece of equipment is deemed completely obsolete. In that case, we divert it to established electronics recyclers who can refine that material to its raw element so it can go back into the manufacturing stream.
How does this help to combat the problem of e-waste?
The manufacture of one single computer requires 500 pounds of fossil fuels, 1.5 tonnes of water, and 50 pounds of chemicals to produce. With businesses and consumers upgrading their computer equipment every few years, that’s a lot of potential e-waste. By refurbishing, we’re not emitting any new carbon or contributing to the air, soil, and water contamination and helping to keep these devices out of the landfill.
Who receives the refurbished electronics, and what impact does it have on the communities you serve?
We help hundreds of charitable organizations, non-profit groups, schools, and retirement homes throughout the year with our repurposed electronics donations. We also sell a small portion of refurbished equipment at a low cost to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the incubation phase to help them offset their technology expenditure. It’s having a very positive impact, as these charities and organizations depend on these repurposed electronics to fulfil their missions.
We help hundreds of charitable organizations, non-profit groups, schools, and retirement homes throughout the year with our repurposed electronics donations.
Why have donations been low since COVID-19?
Due to inflationary pressure throughout the economy, we’ve experienced some hesitancy in donations. However, we encourage Canadians to please consider donating a device that isn’t in use. We also know that fear of data being recovered is one of the biggest obstacles to reuse, but as I said, addressing data destruction securely is a core element of our service offering.
What items do you accept, and how can Canadians donate them?
We accept anything IT related, computers, laptops, cell phones, printers, monitors, web cameras, and peripherals are welcome. We have drop-off depots and do free pickups in seven cities across Canada — Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. We also coordinate collection events throughout the year in various communities across Canada, which people can learn about by subscribing to our newsletter and social media channels.