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Canada's ESG Future

How Electronics Recycling Helps Companies Achieve ESG Goals

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If your company has some older, unused electronics, you can dispose of them safely and responsibly through the Electronic Recycling Association.

Computers and other electronics are essential to modern life, but what happens to these devices when they’re no longer needed? Many get discarded and sent to the landfill as electronic or e-waste. 

E-waste is a growing environmental concern. The Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 reports that the world dumped a record 53.6 million tons of e-waste and predicts a rise to 81 tons by 2030. Electronics contain materials like mercury and lead which can contaminate the air, soil, and groundwater. They also require lots of resources to produce. The manufacture of one single computer and monitor, for example, uses about 500 pounds of fossil fuels, 1.5 tons of water, and 50 pounds of chemicals. 

Considering some companies upgrade their electronics as often as every one to two years and an estimated 50 per cent to 70 per cent of consumers stockpile their devices after replacing them, that’s a lot of unused electronics. At the same time, thousands of Canadians lack access to a computer. 

An innovative way to divert e-waste while achieving social benefit 

The Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) offers an innovative alternative to discarding or stockpiling these unwanted devices. The ERA is a not-for-profit that was established in 2004 to address the twin problems of e-waste and the growing digital divide. For over 19 years, the ERA has been working with electronics recyclers in Canada and the U.S. to give these retired electronic devices new life by refurbishing and then donating them to charities, organizations, and individuals in need. 

The ERA accepts just about anything individuals and companies are willing to part with.  That includes not just old desktops and laptops, but smart phones, cell phones, software, printers, keyboards and other peripherals, and even video conferencing equipment. 

Creating environmental change through reuse and recycling program

As a non-profit organization with deep community roots, ERA’s “reuse” focus and donation activities is what sets it apart from others in this sector. 

The ERA believes that reuse before recycling is the most ecological approach to managing waste created by computer hardware and an excellent way to compel community good will. By turning retired electronic and IT equipment into usable assets, the ERA isn’t only diverting huge amounts of electronics from the waste stream, it’s also helping to foster digital inclusion for all.

The ERA believes that reuse before recycling is the most ecological approach to managing waste created by computer hardware and an excellent way to compel community good will.

The ERA offers corporations and municipalities a chance to reduce their own e-waste and support ERA’s mission by reaching out to them when it’s time to renew their IT devices and retire their old ones. Free pick-up services and drop-off depots across seven Canadian cities make this easy and convenient to do. 

What about data safety? It’s understandable that fear of data being discovered might cause some reluctance on the donor’s part. However, secure hard drive destruction and data erasure is one of ERA’s core service offerings, and it can even be done at the donor’s site. 

Once the assets are received, the ERA will determine its remainder of the asset’s life and whether it can be repurposed. If so, the items are refurbished for donation to charities and other groups in need, such as small businesses, educational facilities, and charities. Equipment that’s deemed to have reached the end of its productive life is sent to certified recycling organizations for processing. 

“We’re proud to provide charities, non-profits, schools, and care facilities all across Canada with the computers they require for their programs. This gives them access to reliable technology while allowing them to apply their resources to what they’re good at, developing programs to help Canadians struggling with poverty, health concerns, or are otherwise experiencing misfortune,” said Bojan Paduh, Founder and CEO of ERA.

Operating in this manner, ERA has repurposed hundreds of tons of equipment and continuously supplied charitable groups across Canada with donated IT equipment. 

Digital donation programs creating positive social change

One of those recipients is the Calgary United Way. The ERA, working with its long-standing donor Shell Canada, donated 75 refurbished laptops, a much-needed upgrade to the devices that were previously in use as they would allow the staff to work more efficiently from home during the pandemic.

Shell Canada also teamed up with ERA teamed up to donate one million dollars-worth computers to 12 groups across Canada including the Chiila Elementary School on the Tsuu t’ina Nation. T. According to the school’s principal, the computers are expected to not only enhance the students’ computer skills but also digitally preserve their culture. These high-end computers that were left unused and destined for the landfill after Shell divested its oilsands operations. Two Shell employees who wanted to make change and give back to the community reached out to the ERA, which securely wiped the machines and installed new operating systems before distributing them.

Another community partner ERA worked with was the Alberta Securities Commission to donate 90 smart phones to two local Calgary non-profits. 80 devices were provided to clients of the CNIB. For people with sight loss, the shift from a high touch environment to a virtual no-touch world during the pandemic made technology more important than ever. Smartphone apps allowed them to stay connected with loved ones while socially distancing, access virtual programming for continued education and navigate their world safety and independently. Additionally, 10 iPhones were given to the Brenda Strafford Centre which supports people who have experienced family violence. For them, a cell phone is not just a convenience, it’s a lifeline to ensure they can stay safe and connected to vital services to help them exit abusive homes.

Make the ERA your go-to organization

With environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting now becoming mandatory in Canada, partnering with the ERA offers a great opportunity to demonstrate your environmental and social best practices. Let ERA be your go-to organization for reaching your ESG goals. 


Learn more about how you can reduce waste and create positive social change by visiting era.ca.

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