Do You Have Any Used Electronic Devices at Home?

Do You Have Any Used Electronic Devices at Home?

Regular contributor, Peter Stuart asks the question…


You know something; I take all this recycling business pretty seriously. If we’re going to scrape billions and billions of tons of animal, vegetable and mineral wealth from Mother Earth, the least we can do, is first of all, try and reduce the quantity we extract to a minimum, reuse as much of what we extract, then recycle the rest. It’s just common sense in a finite world. 

That’s why I was so heartened a few years ago when the City of Québec came out with a guide for where to take all your recyclable material for disposal. I found places which took old TVs, batteries, and almost everything you could imagine. You just had to be conscientious enough to make a special trip over to their location to bring them your stuff and let them dispose of it safely, which I’m sure not everybody does. 

However, the infrastructure is getting better. There’s a big informal network of scrap dealers in town who are all jobbers, and who rove the streets on garbage day, especially during the summer months around moving day and spring cleaning, who pick the garbage heaps clean of everything they can possibly make money from, usually metal, which fetches a pretty good amount at the scrap yard, and is then sold to places like China. 

You’ve got the Salvation Army on Canardière Boulevard which takes used fabric and material and recycles it into new fabric, so you don’t have to throw out your old clothes anymore, but bring them to the Salvation Army. 

But what about home electronics? I see people throwing out computers, cell phones, stereo components, TVs calculators, printers, radios; you name it, without giving it a second thought as to where they’re going to end up. I’ve seen documentaries on TV about techno-junk yards in India and China where millions of old computers and other electronics end up, with all sorts of toxic chemicals and heavy metals leaching out of them into the earth, and the poorest elements of society being hired on to dismantle them in very poor conditions at that. 

So I was very heartened when I found out that one of my favourite recycling places, which was also at the time on Canardière, called CTOU, had now moved to Boulevard Pierre Bertrand, and had expanded, and was now a fairly big outfit. So what exactly is CTOU, and what precisely do they do? First of all CTOU is an acronym, which means ‘Centre de Traitement d’Ordinateurs Usagés’, so they basically recycle old computers. 

I visited their facility 1041 Pierre Bertand , suite 160,(just south of highway 40, or Autoroute de la Capitale) when I brought some electronics to be recycled, and enquired of the owner, Mr. Jean-Pierre Tremblay, what exactly his company was all about. He was more than happy to bring me into the shop out back and show me where all the computers and other home electronics are dismantled, stripped down, and all the valuable materials recuperated for recycling, and stored in various large bins according to type. 

He said that not only do they recycle computers, but they also take any electrical or electronic device, as long as it has not been exposed to nuclear radiation, or bio-hazardous substances. So bring your old radios, TVs, game consoles, calculators, can openers, blenders, stereo components, you name it, they take it! They also do a good turn for the community by hiring people with various developmental disabilities to work in the shop doing the dismantling, and are registered with the government with a variety of schemes to employ persons with these kinds of limitations. 

They also rebuild computers, and supply reconditioned computers at dirt-cheap prices to low-income persons and community groups, who otherwise would not have access to the digital world. So if you want to know more about this novel enterprise, just call 418-525-5959, and ask to speak to Jean-Pierre Tremblay or one of his associates, and they’ll be pleased to tell you more about what they do. 

And if you’re still wondering what to do with all that used electronic junk lying around your place that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, well, bring it to CTOU! That’s all!

About the author:

Peter Stuart is a freelance journalist and writer based in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. He has a degree in Canadian Studies from the University of Ottawa.
He has written Op-Ed pieces for the last ten years for publications including: Le Soleil, La Presse, Quebec Chronicle Telegraph and Impact Campus.
Peter writes in both French and English, and and has published his first book, entitled ‘The Catholic Faith and the Social Construction of Religion: With Particular Attention to the Québec Experience’. 
You can read more of Peter’s work by visiting his blog.

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