There’s gold in that electronic waste – no, really

By Stephanie Drummond
Sept. 15, 2014

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, the old saying goes.
Literally when it comes to old electronics. After all, there is gold in some of them plus, parts can often be salvaged and reused to create new ones, leaving little impact on the environment.
The Electronic Products Recycling Association of Prince Edward Island, with the help of Island Waste Management, offers a free drop off for discarded electronics.
Floyd Gaudet is the customer service manager at Island Waste Management. It is important to properly recycle electronics, he said.
“We can recover plastic, glass and precious metal from old electronics so that we are not using energy and product to build new ones. Directly renewing less energy to build new electronics.”
Products dropped off at one of the six facilities on the Island get shipped to Nova Scotia, where they are torn apart and recycled, Gaudet said.
“They remove precious metal. Plastic shells are removed and recycled. Glass is crushed and recycled. There is a degree of gold in them, like the motherboard, and all of these materials are used at other companies to build new electronics.”
An environmental handling fee pays for the recycling program, he said.
“You’re taxed when you buy new electronics.”
The tax helps draw awareness to recycling, Gaudet said.
“You bought a new computer. You pay for x, y and z amounts for that computer. It’s in your best interest to have it properly recycled.”
Gerard MacLellan is executive director of the electronic products recycling association in the Atlantic Provinces. Many people don’t know it’s free to drop off electronics, he said.
“It doesn’t cost the consumer. They don’t have to pay to take any electronics to the drop off.”
The company recycles old electronics where legislation has been passed. Electronics are banned from disposal in landfills on P.E.I.
“In a landfill, electronics take up space. Leeching is of concern and in the construction of a landfill, space if very valuable. Less material equals less cost by the taxpayer,” he said.
The program, which started July 1, 2010, is raising awareness and helping the environment, MacLellan said.
“Older electronics from the 50s and 60s are substances of concern. Lead and mercury and valuable metals can leech into the ground. There is no reason for electronics to be in a landfill.”