Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Recycling Those Machines: Quebec and Big Box Chain Agree to Computer Recycling Program

You can turn in your computer and other electronics for recycling at Quebec’s Bureau en gros, the chain of big box office supply stores called Staples elsewhere. The Quebec government has just reached an agreement with the chain, which has stores throughout the province, to provide the service for free. This makes recycling of old computers much cheaper here than many other places: Staples outlets in the US charge between $10 and $20 to take electronic equipment off your hands for recycling, and a Google search didn't turn up such a program elsewhere in Canada.

Of course, the electronic information age was supposed to do away with a lot of waste, and it may do so yet: I know I use less paper than I once did when writing, since I rarely print anything any more. For my last two books—the novel After Surfing Ocean Beach (Dundurn Press, 2004) and Green City: People, Nature and Urban Places (Véhicule Press, 2006)—I didn’t even have page proofs in the usual sense. The files were sent to me as Word documents and I made the changes on them.

But what do when the technology makes your computer obsolete? The top of one of our bookcases is home to half a dozen Macs of various ages,, and I hesitate between wanting to find a home for them, and hoping to keep them long enough to have a little Mac museum. If you look around you may find a charity that will take recent–generation computers off your hands, and ship them off some place for use by an NGO or other charity. But the projects tend to depend on the good will and energy of volunteers, who may move on to another project after a while. Montreal's
has such a project, but it is limited in extent to students and staff.

The new Quebec/Bureau en gros program should help out a lot here. Maybe the next step will be the kind of legislation that the states of Texas and Oregon have which require computers to be recycled at the expense of manufacturers.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Sounds like Quebec is doing a much better job at dealing with e-waste! I wish other Staples would come up with similar programs.