Below is our recent interview with Jessica Lifely, from Electronic Recycling Association:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Electronic Recycling Association?
A: ERA was started in Calgary in 2004 for two reasons. The first was to minimize and eventually eliminate the electronic waste that had begun piling up in landfills. In 2004 there were few electronic recycling programs, especially ones that were well known to the general public, and people and companies didn’t have a lot of options for how to securely dispose of their electronic items in an environmentally responsible manner. The second reason was to provide a service to less fortunate Canadians that allowed them to have access to the technology that has become increasingly necessary. ERA was founded to take equipment no longer wanted by its original owner, clean it up, and make it available to new owners unable to afford brand new equipment through donation programs. The ERA is a non-profit organization committed to giving back to the community through technology donations, the management of electronic waste and helming initiatives that raise awareness about e-waste and the digital divide that has segregated so many people. With a comprehensive range of corporate services (such as pick-up services, data destruction and detailed reporting), ERA can help any size of organization manage their retiring IT assets safely and responsibly. Since community investment is paramount to ERA’s vision, we offer Canada-wide donation services, fundraising programs, complimentary community cleanup services and awareness building initiatives.
Q: How exactly does it work?
Q: You’ve recently partnered with RCMP Alberta; could you tell us something more?
A: Community Involvement is the cornerstone of ERA’s philosophy. Over the years, the ERA has provided thousands of computers to charities, non-profits, educational institutions, care facilities and other deserving organizations. Each day the ERA receives numerous donation requests and does not refuse reasonable requests for equipment.
The ERA also works with community associations to aide in annual community clean-up events. Over the spring and summer months, the ERA has resources on site at cleanups nearly every weekend. This valuable service is provided free of charge to community associations. In addition to this, the ERA often hosts collections at malls, schools and other public locations to provide accessible drop off options to the general public. At many of these collection events, the ERA will partner with other organizations (food banks, women’s shelters, RCMP, Police Units, and Schools etc.) and will collect items for their causes on their behalf.
Because awareness is such a key piece, the ERA also provides schools (of all levels) with the opportunity to have a presentation on e-waste and community investment at their facilities. These presentations are made by senior members of the ERA staff and are a great way to compel donation activity and create awareness around the environmental implications of technological cycling.
Every year we partner with RCMP and Police services across Canada for a fraud prevention month hard drive shredding and e-waste collection event. Visitors learn the answers to all of their fraud-related questions, and safely dispose of their old electronics. These event take place all over Canada in each city ERA is located in.
Q: Why should everyone recycle their electronics?
A: Your old electronics are devices full of toxic material that should never make it to a landfill, like mercury. arsenic, lead, indium oxide, and cadmium. If those materials make it into landfills, they can potentially leak into our environment, damaging the lives of plants and animals and potentially impacting our food supply. It will create Air and water pollution which down the line can and will affect the human race.
Another reason not to dispose of your old technology is because it keeps your personal information safe. If you throw away your old computer, there’s no telling who might be able to get their hands on your hardware and your data.
Q: What is the best way to get involved with the Electronic Recycling Association and help work towards a future without e-waste?
A: ERA provides many programs to the communities of Canada. Get involved with the Electronic Recycling Association and help work towards a future without e-waste. Invite the ERA to your community cleanup, host an e-waste fundraiser, spend some time volunteering at the ERA, or initiate an e-waste collection at your business. Our volunteering program is a great way to fulfill your community service goals while assisting with our electronic recycling initiatives.
Volunteer Program: Gain valuable computer experience, help your community, and receive a computer once volunteer hours are completed.
Fundraise for your Cause: Earn some cash for your cause! We offer an e-waste fundraiser program to benefit charities and other non-profit groups.
Become an ERA member: Receive exclusive membership benefits like price reductions, priority pickups, discounted hardware, and more.
Collect Equipment: We provide collection bins for ongoing use and prompt equipment removal at no extra charge.
Youth Workshops: Learn how to build a computer from scratch! Our Parts to PC Youth Workshop is offered to participants aged 12 to 15.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: The Electronic Recycling Associations future goals include:
– Better penetration across Canada and the US. Much of our current activity and business occurs in Western Canada and some of it in Eastern Canada. We will be opening in the US in April and will be working on establishing a presence. We have begun the process in opening a new depot and will be striving to slowly start picking up electronics in the US. Our goal for this is to see as much success all across the two countries that we have seen in our operating area’s so far.
– To increase our diverted waste on an annual basis by at least 10% in all of the areas within which we operate.
– To increase our charitable donation capacity and charitable donation totals. Our method to achieve this goal is to continue talking to new charities and offering partnerships and regular donations to support their programs. In our perfect world, every Canadian and American would have access to their own computer.
– To have depots that accessible to everyone in Canada. A big long term goal of ours is to have a full service warehouse in each province (that can accept, sort, refurbish and distribute electronic items) and a depot in every major Canadian city. The easier we can make it for everyone to responsibly manage their unwanted electronics the more waste we can divert and the more donations we can make.
•Achievements in 2018:
Recycled 6,694 Tonnes
Donated to over 200 organizations
Picked up from 9,542 locations Canada wide
Emerald Award 2016 for Community Group & Non-Profit Association: Grassroots