University student holds electronic waste drive

Only 20 per cent of electronics recycled properly

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/07/2021 (563 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A University of Victoria student is giving back to the community in the hopes of securing a scholarship.

Cas Kupfer, an MBA student scholarship participant, recently partnered with the Electronic Recycling Association to give the community an opportunity to drop off unwanted electronics to be refurbished and donated to Winnipeg charities.

Kupfer says the ERA scholarship competition — now in its second year — was the “perfect fit” given their degree is in sustainable innovation.

Photo by Kelsey James A community member donates a box of unwanted CDs at a Tuxedo electronic waste drive on July 21.

“Sure, it benefits me if I win the scholarship, but it also benefits the planet and charities,” Kupfer said.

Kupfer and the ERA set up at École Tuxedo Park from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wed., July 21.
It was a busy scene as community members hauled their electronics to a large ERA truck. Computer monitors, TVs, boxes of CDs and bins of IT equipment were already piling up with two hours still left in the drive.

Kupfer organized the whole event, including securing the permit, insurance and location, while the ERA assisted with collection.

“I was really inspired to do a scholarship that’s for a good cause,” Kupfer said. “You can apply to a lot of scholarships where you write an essay, but I wouldn’t be helping anybody.”

A 2014 University of British Columbia study discovered Canadians have generated 725 metric kilotons of electronic waste with only 20 per cent being recycled properly.

It is a growing problem, as the electronic waste stream increases by three to five per cent each year. Many of the resources inside electronics — including plastic, glass, gold, silver and copper —  can be reused continously without losing any of their properties.

Jim Findley, operations manager for ERA Winnipeg, has been working in the electronic waste industry for six years. He sees everything from computers to VCRs and tablets being donated.

“Our mission is to refurbish and reuse as much of the equipment as we can,” Findley said. “It’s a rewarding job because I get to go home and tell my kids I’m Captain Planet.”

The electronics that are refurbished and brought up-to-date are donated to immigration centres, womens’ centres, schools and Indigenous programs. What does not get refurbished is then broken down and goes to the proper depots to be recycled.

“Please recycle this stuff,” Findley said. “We don’t want to be throwing it away because 70 per cent of the toxic waste that’s in landfills is electronic waste.”

Kupfer will be collecting electronics until July 30 as part of their scholarship bid and encourages other Winnipeggers to donate.

They can be reached at caskupfer@gmail.com. Non-profits can also apply for donations on the ERA website at www.electronicrecyclingassociation.ca

Kelsey James

Kelsey James
Community Journalist

Kelsey James was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review in 2021 and 2022.

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