How to Prepare your Device for Recycling

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Canadian residents can bring their outdated or unwanted electronics products to a designated drop-off location. This free drop off service is made possible because of environmental handling fees (EHFs) that consumers pay when purchasing new electronics.

Electronic devices, such as computers, cell phones, tablets, and digital fax and copy machines, can collect and store personal information including passwords, usernames, bank account information, credit card numbers and confidential emails.  Because such personal data can reside in different places on your hard drive, data destruction is important to protect yourself from the possibility of identity theft, data theft, or other harm.

Please keep in mind that YOU are responsible for ensuring that your personal information has been erased.

Prior to dropping off your device for recycling, please review these helpful tips to prepare your device for responsible recycling and to ensure that your personal data is erased from the device’s memory.

1. The personal data stored on your device is your responsibility. Before recycling your old computer or electronics device, be sure to back up all personal or sensitive data from the device’s hard drive to your new device or an external hard drive.

2. Identify the make and model of your device. Visit the manufacturer’s website to review the step-by-step instructions for safe personal data destruction specific to your device.

3. Protect your privacy – Your data must be wiped from your device prior to dropping it off for recycling. Data must be overwritten to be erased from the hard drive. This is commonly called data wiping. Simply deleting a file, emptying your computer’s “recycle bin,” or reformatting your hard drive does not remove data from your device. The possibility that data may be retrievable through the use of specialized software, remains a threat.  Overwriting can be performed by obtaining disk-wiping software (both free and paid versions are available online).

4. A more secure level of data destruction can be achieved by physically destroying the hard drive (e.g., by grinding or shredding).

5. If you would rather have a professional handle the destruction of data, there are many businesses such as electronics retailers, electronics repair shops and many certified recyclers that offer data destruction services.

For cellular phones, tablets, e-readers

  • Back up all your data, including contacts. You mobile provider can assist you with this process
  • Remember to remove the SIM card and any external storage such as a microSD card
  • Log out of services like email, cloud storage, social media, banking and other apps
  • Keep the serial number of the phone, tablet or e-reader on file for your records.
  • Use the factory reset. Many devices allow you to “wipe” your device and clear information in memory, also referred so as a “hard reset”. For detailed instructions on how to “wipe” your device, read your owner’s manual or check the website of your mobile provider or the device manufacturer.

Visit www.epra.ca to find an EPRA authorized drop-off location near you. These drop off locations should have locked storage for devices that are then transported to a processor.

Make sure to call ahead before drop-off. Some locations may limit quantity, size and type of material accepted. Check any limitations or restrictions at the location you choose.

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