Breathing new life into older equipment and the importance of recycling
At Innovative Audio, we take recycling seriously.
Please note that this article is a bit long and for those of you with an attention span of a hummingbird here are a few quick reference points
* Intro * We buy old stereos! * Choosing a good recycling depot * Parts, parts and more parts * What we take at our facility *
We stepped into the recycling arena simply out of demand of obsolete parts. We realized that vintage audio components are being thrown away by the millions each year and with them go any hope of re-usable parts. Imagine having the power transformer of your Pioneer SX-1980 burn out or the front panel of your Nakamichi Dragon gouged by the movers in transport, where are you going to find replacement parts? Radio Shack?
In 2006 we registered our company with the BC Government to be an active contributor for the Electronic Recycling program. In addition, we also applied for and received accreditation through the BC Recycling Hotline as an authorized electronic recycling drop off depot. There is simply too much being thrown away and we all need to realize that a vast majority of electronics can be diverted from the landfill and in most cases, re-used for other uses. It will take some time to reverse our way of thinking, as it seems that in today's day and age this is a 'throw-away' society but through a group effort we can make a difference. It is truly sad to consider that 60% of electronic items are thrown away in PERFECT WORKING CONDITION and that the only reason they are discarded is because they were replaced with something newer.
We are on the Recycling Council of British Columbia's website as a drop off center for electronics. This can be found here:
http://rcbc.bc.ca/node/572?material_box=Electronics&material_detail_box=Home+Audio+%26+Video+Systems&Cities_Serviced_box=Surrey&x=94&y=36Over the years we have saved approximately 40,000 pieces of vintage audio from being lost forever. A large portion of these units have ended up in our 'bone yard' to be used as parts. In other cases some of these receivers, amplifiers, turntables and cassette decks have been completely restored and sold through our store and shipped around the world for others to enjoy for years to come. We have based our entire business structure around vintage and used audio equipment and will go to great lengths to insure that what our clients receive is only the very best. There are many cases where WE BUY recycling simply because we need the parts. We have partnered with companies across Canada and the United States in an ongoing effort to stem the flow of really great gear being lost forever. We are proud of the relationships we have made over the years with these companies and hope to increase this awareness with many, many more.
Before dropping off your old stereo gear at any 'depot', check us out first. There may be money in them thar' boxes!
(Check out the 'What we buy' page to see!)
If past years are any guide, many of us will be purchasing new DVD players, home theater equipment, LCD or plasma televisions, ipods and hundreds of other electronic do-dads that make up our everyday life.
What happens to the old ones? That question gains increasing importance when you consider the volume of electronics that we consume. It is estimated more than 3,150 tractor-trailer loads of computers, monitors, printers, TVs, stereos and other equipment are now sent to urban landfills each year in British Columbia.
Electronic waste, or E-Waste as it is known, poses new challenges to cities and municipalities right across Canada. After lead-acid batteries, electronic waste is the second biggest source of heavy metals in landfills. Each monitor and television set contains approximately one to five kilograms of lead, and mercury is used in plasma televisions and to backlight many stereos.
In Vancouver, and in the Lower Mainland there are quite a few places that take electronics for recycling. The problem is that there are a few companies that need to be avoided. In general, these are companies that are simply in it for the money and will take whatever short cuts they can to maximize profits while turning a 'blind eye' to the downline of where these items go. In addition, you should be wary of companies charging a 'drop off' fee. There should be NO REASON why you should be paying more to help out with the environment. You are already getting dinged with 'eco' fees when purchasing these goods, why the extra charge? Also, question those companies claiming to help charitable organizations. For the most part this is simply a 'product grab' trying to convince you that they do charitable work when in fact it is simply a ploy to "reassure" you so you feel better dropping off your equipment to them. When looking around for reputable companies always ask a few questions:
- Do they ship the electronics overseas where in some countries this practice is illegal?
- Do they re-sell items that were 'written' off by insurance or returned stock?
- Do they completely grind down hard drives and other media containing personal information?
Already, real opportunities to reuse end-of-life electronics exist. Programs such as Computers for Schools are excellent examples of how many components can be refurbished and have a second life. Ask the Depot if they allow items to be bought for re-use. One VERY BIG company with many 'locations' throughout BC has a policy in place that is simply too ridiculous to believe. Their policy?
'ANY ITEM DROPPED OFF AT THESE FACILITIES WILL BE THE SOLE PROPERTY OF THE COMPANY AND WILL NOT BE RESOLD OR REUSED IN ANY FASHION WHATSOEVER'
What this means is that not even a knob, a switch or even a button can be given, bought or sold as this company destroys everything. Employees are threatened with termination if they even consider saving ANYTHING from the crusher. Nice huh? This was brought to our attention several years back and again just recently when a woman lost her laptop to this company. In June of 2009 a woman was moving and had her sister helping her out. There were a small number of electronic do-hicky's that she no longer needed and brought them down to the depot in Richmond BC to drop off. Unfortunately, she did not see her sister put her laptop on the dock with the other stuff and they left. Within the hour she realized her mistake and went back to the depot. Needless to say they absolutely REFUSED to give her back her laptop. Even though it would have been a quick jaunt to retrieve it she was NOT ALLOWED to have it back. 'Company policy' she was told. Not even the 'manager' would oblige. Even calling the main office did her no good. The laptop was NEVER returned and she lost years of work and information.
Since the majority of our business revolves around the concept of restoration, service and repairs of vintage audio, these parts are extremely beneficial. Whenever possible, we try to use 100% of these original parts for our repairs and restoration unless requested otherwise. Many times we save the entire unit, as is, for others to use as 'project pieces'. These are units that budding or amateur electronic techs like to fool around with as a hobby. Again, they stay out of the dump. Items that have been 'picked over like a Thanksgiving turkey' are then re-sorted and sent to Government licensed depots. Again, to be used for other projects.
We are always more than willing to help out with respect to unwanted electronics. There is no such thing as an item not being 'recyclable'. Since older or 'vintage' electronics have literally zero value (until new Government regulations to be introduced in 2010 then they will be worth $200.00 a ton) they are normally sent right to the incinerator or crusher. With some less reputable companies they are sent overseas illegally to be processed, or they are often simply discarded into landfills or dumped into the oceans. Due to the shear volume of items being collected, it costs money for companies whether they are here or across the oceans to process and sort. As a result, millions of these great items are lost forever every week!
It will take some time to reverse our way of thinking, as it seems that in today's day and age this is a 'throw-away' society but through a group effort we can make a difference. It is truly sad to consider that 60% of electronic items are thrown away in PERFECT WORKING CONDITION and that the only reason they are discarded is because they were replaced with something newer.
For the most part, we take virtually anything electronic and/or audio related. This includes the more common items such as: Stereo Equipment, Personal Audio Equipment (walkmans, ipods, headphones, recording devices, etc.), DVD Players, VCR's, Camcorders, Digital Cameras, Musical Electronic Equipment (keyboards, amplifiers, etc), Commercial Audio Equipment, DJ & Band Equipment, Speakers (any size), Telephone Equipment, Gaming Systems & Games, Clock Radios, Electronic Test Equipment and Electronic Signs. (Again, to get a really good idea of these items check out our 'What we buy' page!)
In addition, we also take records, audio magazines/manuals, music tapes - store bought (8-tracks, reels, and cassettes), tube equipment, table radios, laser discs and stereo cables, store bought original CDs (NOT computer discs or burned discs) and DVDs. We currently do not take VHS tapes.
WE DO NOT TAKE PHOTOCOPIERS, SMALL APPLIANCES (including microwaves!) OR TVs.
Although this list is overly-simplified, we take just about anything electronically or tube based. If you are unsure, please call us - we will be more than happy to help out. As always, there is NO DROP-OFF OR RECYCLING FEES - EVER. We believe that you are already being taxed enough with additional levies and duties so why should you pay again for helping out?We would prefer NOT to have items dropped off after store hours or during the night, but when our store is open. To help you, our drop off times are listed as follows:
Tuesday - Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturdays 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Sundays and Mondays and ALL major holidays - CLOSED
Note - If you have a large amount of electronics or very heavy items to drop off and these times simply do not work for you, please call us to make arrangements. We will try to do what we can to help. Feel free to contact us with any enquiries at email@example.com. If possible, if the items you are dropping off are in still good working condition, please let our staff know as we can then allocate these items for our other programs.
WE DO NOT BUY SCRAP METAL OF ANY KIND - EVER! PLEASE DO NOT ASK. ANY ITEMS 'SUSPICIOUS' IN NATURE WILL BE REPORTED TO THE POLICE.