Computers for Schools rises again

Computers for Schools Yukon wants your old flat-screen monitors, towers and laptops. But don't bother bringing your bulky, cathode-ray monitor, old inkjet printer or back-up battery - they don't want it.

Computers for Schools Yukon wants your old flat-screen monitors, towers and laptops. But don’t bother bringing your bulky, cathode-ray monitor, old inkjet printer or back-up battery – they don’t want it.

The nonprofit underwent a brief hiatus since July as it moved under the auspices of Raven Recycling. It’s has now reopened, with pickier standards.

Accepted goods may be dropped off at Raven Recycling. It costs $5 per item, which is slightly cheaper than dropping the goods off at the dump, said Joy Snyder, Raven’s executive director.

The hard-drives of donated computers are wiped of their contents. The computers are then refurbished and given to Yukon schools and nonprofits.

Computer cables and cords are also accepted, as are keyboards and mice.

Other electronics should be taken to the Whitehorse landfill. They’ll eventually be recycled, but they won’t be reused.

Computers for Schools’ previous incarnation was mistaken by the public for an electronic waste dropoff. It was never supposed to be, said Snyder. But its depot ended up being overloaded with broken TVs and other electronic junk.

“Even the government took advantage of it,” said Snyder. “They dropped off photocopiers and everything else at the site.”

In the end, nine truckloads of electronic junk was hauled out of territory from the depot, with funds provided by the Yukon government. That work cost the territory approximately $60,000 in 2009-10, said Jennifer Peterson, an analyst with Environment Yukon.

This summer the city began hauling away the pile of electronic waste its amassed at the dump. To date, it has shipped four 27-cubic-metre loads of electronic waste Outside to be recycled, said Sabine Schweiger, Whitehorse’s environmental co-ordinator.

Municipalities across Canada have struggled with the cost of disposing electronic waste. Left in the landfill, old computer parts may leach poisonous heavy metals into the ground.

But properly disposing the items is pricey. And when high fees are leveed at the dump, this encourages residents to illegally dump their electronic waste elsewhere.

One solution would be to put a surcharge on the sale of electronic items that covers the eventual disposal fee. But only the territorial government has the jurisdiction to introduce such fees.

The idea is backed by the Canadian Council of the Ministers of Environment. And the Yukon government is exploring the option. But there’s been no final decision to back such a surcharge yet.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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