The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

Some questions to ask yourself when disposing of your electronic devices

The evolution of technology has emerged dramatically throughout the last 10 years. In this day and age, many individuals own tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktops, smart watches, and many more technological devices. In comparison, to a little over a decade ago owning a cell phone, laptop or desktop was seen as a novelty.

Even though technology is continuously emerging, many of us still have the wrong mindset when it comes to disposing of our unwanted or used electronics. This article was implemented to raise awareness on some of the things most people get wrong when it comes to disposing of their electronics.

Are obsolete electronics worthless?

Are you crazy? Ask yourself this question, “Are obsolete cars worthless?” and the answer will be no as obsolete means old or outdated, not unusable. The Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) believes in the “Car Theory”: when the lease on your car is up and you trade it in for the new model, the dealership does not process it as a recycling facility would to make a brand new “model”. The dealership re-leases or sells that car – it’s only a few years old after all. A notable portion of the population will never even own a new car, second-hand options are way more affordable and can have a pretty long lifespan if properly maintained, just as computers and other related equipment would. These out of date devices may seem old to you but may seem new to individuals who can’t afford the next new upgrade.

The Electronic Recycling Association – a non-profit organization founded in 2004 to address the growing problem of e-waste and the increasing “digital divide” – will ensure your unwanted or used electronics is data wiped or destroyed and donated to a deserving and appreciative recipient.

Is it worth my time to donate my obsolete electronics?

Yes, it is! Why? Because there is always someone out there that can and will benefit from a device you no longer need or want. Just because you’ve run out of uses for an old desktop or laptop doesn’t mean somebody else won’t find it usable. The Electronic Recycling Association takes your obsolete electronics, ensures the data has been erased and finds the device a new home.

If I decide to donate my unwanted electronics, how do I know that they won’t be shipped off to developing third world countries?

An intensifying mountain of precarious electronic waste is placing workers in developing countries and the environment at crucial risk. The reason individuals are at risk is due to the electronics being physically burned to melt the plastic materials attached to the metal, most electronics contain valuable copper and gold. This process is extremely harmful and creates severe air pollution where many children and pregnant women spend their workday inhaling smoke from poisonous smoke clouds. Other precarious electronics like lead from computer monitors end up seeping into the groundwater and become harmful to not only the residents but also the environment. The Electronic Recycling Association is a proud Canadian organization who operates nationwide. We pride ourselves in only donating to Canadian registered charitable organizations. When it comes to disposing of items we can no longer “re-use”, we ensure they are safely and securely recycled within the province they came from.

How do I erase my data before I dispose of my electronics?

You don’t need to erase it on your own! There are many different options when it comes to ensuring your data is securely taken care of. Data security is critical for most businesses, charitable organizations and home users. Customer information, payment information, personal documents, banking information – all of this material can be extremely difficult to replace and theoretically treacherous if it lands into the wrong hands. The Electronic Recycling Association can prevent this scenario occurring by two simple methods: Data wiping and data destruction. There is no need to worry about erasing data off any devices when you donate it to the ERA.

An example of a proven data wiping software is Blancco, a program that scrambles the binary code that makes up all of your data, on the most basic level (multiple pass, random array). Then it goes through and scrambles it again a set number of times – depending on the version of the software you select. This option takes a bit of time but is extremely thorough. Even the most advanced hacker won’t be able to recover that data. The benefit to this option is that storage devices can be safely reused by individuals who can’t afford brand new tech – so if you choose this option, well done!

Keep your data confidential

The best way to guarantee your info remains private is to have hard drives, tapes, and other storage hardware physically destroyed. If you know how to remove storage hardware, you can destroy it yourself (literally, with power tools). Keep in mind that if you haven’t sufficiently damaged the internal bits of your device, data could still be recovered – and accessing storage devices can be a labor-intensive process. Most e-waste firms have professional hard drive shredders that guarantee destruction, so consider requesting physical destruction when you drop off your device for processing. Remember to speak with a rep and request confirmation of destruction.

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