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Be Green

Computer Recycling

Computers are a little like supermodels, aren't they. Incredibly desirable for an incredibly short time before they're replaced by a younger and prettier model. Let's face it, the entire computer industry is based on the idea that what's top of the line today is probably going to be obsolete in a few years. And it's a pain, because there isn't much of a market out there for an old computer these days.
So what do you do with it?
It's a valid question considering this staggering statistic:
In 2007 alone, 67,000 tonnes of computer-related waste ended up in Canadian landfills.

This is a big, big deal. Not just as a space issue.
Computers contain loads of extremely toxic chemicals. Heavy metals like
* mercury
* cadmium
* lead
* arsenic
* cobalt
* germanium
* aluminum
* copper
* titanium
* gold

And that's the short list. And, as is obvious, some of those metals are rather precious. Mining them causes immense ecological degradation. So why not just save them and reuse them? Hey, I'll go one better-- why not leave them INSIDE the computers and send those computers to people who don't care that they don't have the latest Mac OS?
Well, that's exactly what one Montreal company, Microrecyccoop decided to do.

Watch the video here

So here's how Microrecyccoop works. (By the way, the name is a contraction of the words Micro--in its community sense, Recycling (obvious) and Co-operation--because it's a non-profit international organization).

1. Your old computer: If you have a computer that you'd like to have recycled, make sure it meets the following criteria:
* PCs must be Pentium II or more advanced
* Macs must be G3 or higher
* The computer must be fully functional or need only minor repairs.

The reason for this is simple. Unlike most recycling companies, which ship e-waste to the third world and make it someone else's problem, Microrecyccoop actually ships fully functional, high-quality computers to developing countries like Africa and Haiti. More on that in a minute.

2. Call them: Call them to make sure they can take what you have. This includes the following:
* Keyboards
* Mice
* Printers
* Photocopiers
* Scanners
* Fax Machines

Usually, if you just have one or two items, you'll have to go over to their Avenue du Parc workshop and drop them off. Here are the company's co-ordinates:
7000 Avenue du parc, #103
Phone: (514) 227-5776
Fax: (514) 227-0020

If you're a business with more than 10 items to donate, they'll arrange a pickup. So it's really easy

3. What's in it for you?
Other than saving the planet and helping poor and less fortunate folks? Well, you get a tax receipt for the value of your computer (the company evaluates it using sophisticated software). You will be asked to make a $10 donation. This is to help with shipping costs (which are usually $100 per item). You get a receipt for this too.

4. Privacy: Don't worry, Microrecyccoop erases your hard drive to protect your privacy.

5. Labelling: The computers are then specially labelled according to their capabilities. That way, heavy duty, fast computers can end up in universities or businesses and slower computers that have less RAM can end up matched to less demanding users like grade school kids. The labels also state the name of the technician that worked on the computer so the circle of accountability is complete. I mean, who DOES this? Cool hey?

6. Linux: As any computer user knows, the most expensive stuff is the software. MRC uses rights-free Linux on its machines.

7. The end user: (This is where the violins start to play) Your old computer will help women entrepreneurs, school children, university students, small business owners and community groups learn, connect and get independent...
Instead of sitting in a landfill leaching heavy metals into our water systems.

Oh, and if you're looking to buy a new computer, it might make sense to wait till THIS baby hits our markets (probably around Christmas).
So let me ask you: What do YOU do with your old computers, printers, cellphones, etc?
Leave me a comment or call our talkback line: (514) 597-5626

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Comments (2)

M Ford


ReBOOT (a non profit organisation) also recycles used computers, and resells them to students, senior citizens, and other needy Quebeckers. Visit us at www.rebootmontreal.ca


Posted September 17, 2008 08:34 AM

mike cohen


Free recyling dropoff center at 3737 cremazie , montreal h1z 2k4
12,000 square foot depot with loading dock
we can handle smallest load to a full 53 foot truck. Unlike others we offer this service for free because we know that if we charge for recycling much of this toxic material will go to landfill.

p.s. we PAY for circuit boards $1 /pound

Posted March 28, 2009 04:10 PM

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