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    Recycling push picks up in local high-tech sector

    High Tech Office column; 

    Business in Vancouver March 13-19, 2007; issue 907

    by Alan Zisman (c) 2007

    Slowly, the high-tech office is getting on the environmental bandwagon, with a growing number of programs from corporations, non-profits and government.

    Major technology companies are increasing the visibility of their recycling programs, for instance:

    HP notes that in the past year, it has recycled more than 74 million kilograms of hardware and print cartridges, a 16% increase over the previous year. That puts the company on target to recycle a total of one billion pounds (455 million kilograms) by the end of 2007.

    Hardware recycled by HP in Canada goes to the Noranda recycling facility in Brampton, Ontario. Other computer manufacturers, including Lenovo and Dell, also have recycling programs in place for customers of older models.

    Toshiba Canada is offering to recycle non-working laptops, LCD monitors and PDAs. Users making use of the company’s TERRE program ( can arrange for free shipping to Toshiba and will receive a USB flash drive as a token of appreciation. Unlike HP and Dell, Toshiba’s program accepts hardware made by any manufacturer, but only in the product areas where Toshiba is active.

    Rogers Wireless is working with the Canadian Association of Food Banks’ Phones-for-Food program by including postage-paid recycling envelopes with selected mobile phone models. Users wanting to recycle other mobile phones (from Rogers or other providers) can print their own postage-paid envelopes from Donated phones are sold to remanufacturers, raising funds for local food banks.

    It’s not all about recycling, however.

    Printer manufacturer Lexmark, for example, calls its new E-series monochrome lasers and C530 colour laser printers “green machines,” because the company maintains they reduce their environmental footprint compared with earlier models.

    Computers for Schools ( solicits donations of Pentium III (or better) and 17-inch (or larger) monitors, which are made available to schools and libraries across B.C.

    It has distributed more than 85,000 computers within B.C. since 1994; nationwide, CFS has distributed nearly 800,000 systems. Pick-ups are available for donations of 20 or more pieces within the Lower Mainland.

    New in Vancouver is a recycling depot run by the Electronic Recycling Association ( It joins ERA’s facilities in Edmonton and Calgary.

    ERA solicits donations from individuals, small and large businesses and government departments, making computer systems available at no charge to schools, non-profits, libraries and other community organizations.

    Unlike Computers for Schools, it collects older or non-working electronic equipment and arranges recycling for whatever can’t be reused. Like CFS, the association will pick up bulk donations.

    B.C. is planning to institute a program of electronics recycling effective June 1 in an attempt to help keep computers, monitors, printers and televisions out of landfills.

    A system of transfer stations and collection depots will be set up to encourage people and businesses to drop off unused hardware, and an environmental handling fee will be tacked on to new hardware, under the aegis of a new non-profit Electronic Stewardship British Columbia program and administered by Encorp Pacific (

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan