Unplug This Blog!

Clear out clutter, save energy and money by recycling

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Perhaps you have old mixed tapes or CDs still around and actually use a cassette/CD player like the one shown here by Outreach rep Kevin Ball. Chances are it's just clutter in a closet – it may be time to take it to an electronics recycling outlet.

Start the new year with a clean slate and feel good about it

Posted by Kevin Ball
For bchydro.com

Now that the holiday season and Boxing Day (and Week) sales are behind us, many British Columbians may find themselves the proud owners of a new TV or electronic device such as a tablet. This begs the question, what can you do with the old television?

The answer is simple: visit your local Return-It Depot or ElectroRecycle participating location. If you recycle your older items, rather than transferring them to the basement or guest room, you'll save energy from standby power, and save money. Plus you'll clear out some clutter.

As an alternative to dropping off your unused electronics at a depot, you can consider dropping off usable items at a thrift shop or charitable organization. See our blog post from a couple years ago on how to donate your old TV or computer.

You can recycle more than you think, for free

The electronics eligible for recycling span further than a TV and a VCR. In fact, you can recycle desktop and laptop computers, corded and cordless telephones, and even electronic guitars or children's toys. Find the complete list of eligible products on the Return-It Depot website.

When dropping off your TV or computer monitor for recycling, there are a few things to note.

  • It's free to recycle old televisions or other electronics. That's because consumers pay an environmental handling fee when purchasing new products that covers the cost of recycling.
  • If the item you're looking to recycle is broken, it's best to visit the Return-It Depot website to ensure your location accepts damaged products. This is because some damaged electronics are considered to be hazardous materials, so individual depots must be equipped to handle such items.
  • There are four locations in BC where you can return broken televisions and computer monitors, in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, and Kelowna. "Broken" refers to the physical condition of the television or monitor, such as a cracked or broken screen. Televisions that no longer operate but are otherwise physically fine can be recycled at any Return-It depot that accepts electronics.

ElectroRecycle available for small appliances, tools

Maybe you're less of a technology buff, and more of an avid cook. Chances are that you or someone you know picked up a new kitchen appliance in the past few months.

ElectroRecycle is a non-profit program that provides British Columbians with an opportunity to recycle items such as small appliances, power tools, and exercise equipment safely and conveniently. As many holiday wish lists this year were sure to have included a new crock pot or power drill, recycling is a great option to dispose of the appliance or tool that has been upgraded or replaced.

Not only does this allow you to start 2015 clutter-free, but also helps the environment as it keeps recyclable items out of the landfill. Find the full list of allowable tools, small appliances and equipment on the ElectroRecycle website.

It's easy to find the closest recycling location

With hundreds of locations throughout British Columbia, there's likely to be a Return-It Depot or ElectroRecycle approved location near you. Visit the Return-It Depot or ElectroRecycle website to view an interactive map of all locations in the province.

You can also use your smartphone GPS to find the recycling location closest to you. Download the Recycling Council of British Columbia app (available on both Apple and Android devices) to find the nearest depot.

What about large appliances?

Although large appliances are not currently accepted at Return-It Depot or ElectroRecycle locations, you still have options if you’re considering recycling.

Start by looking at the Recyclepedia page on the Recycling Council of British Columbia website. Use this tool to search what organizations in your city will accept a specific appliance, usually to salvage scrap metal. Stoves, dishwashers, and freezers are all good options for recycling when you’ve replaced an appliance.

For those considering downsizing to a single fridge, watch for the Power Smart Fridge Buy-Back program at certain periods throughout the year. It's a great option to get rid of a second fridge in your garage or basement, which can cost up to $90 a year to operate.

If you're ready to get rid of your second fridge or older fridge right now, Recyclepedia can help you find options in your area.

Why you should feel good about recycling

Prior to the arrival of large-scale recycling organizations like the Return-It Depot and ElectroRecycle, many electronic items would end up in landfills. Plastic and electronic components don't decompose during our lifetime, so it's important that we use the materials in obsolete items to their highest potential.

In 2007, large-scale recycling programs helped to divert 121,000 tonnes of solid waste and reduced 267,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide gas. This is the equivalent to removing over 72,000 cars off the road each year.

By continuing our environmentally conscious habits like recycling, we're helping to keep unnecessary items out of the landfill and the ecosystem.

Kevin Ball is a Community Outreach representative with BC Hydro who educates customers in the Lower Mainland about ways to save energy and money.