April 30th, 2024

Our reliance on electronics has transformed our lives, but it’s also created a growing problem: electronic waste, or e-waste. Discarded electronics accumulating in landfills leach harmful toxins and contribute to environmental pollution. Luckily, Ontario offers a robust electronic waste recycling program, making it easy for residents to dispose of their old devices responsibly.

Our reliance on electronics has transformed our lives, but it's also created a growing problem: electronic waste, or e-waste. Discarded electronics accumulating in landfills leach harmful toxins and contribute to environmental pollution. Luckily, Ontario offers a robust electronic waste recycling program, making it easy for residents to dispose of their old devices responsibly.

This blog post serves as your comprehensive guide to electronic waste recycling in Ontario. We'll explore the importance of proper e-waste disposal, the types of electronics accepted in recycling programs, and convenient ways to find a drop-off location near you.

Why Recycle Your E-Waste?

Disposing of electronics in the trash is a significant environmental hazard. Here's why responsible e-waste recycling is crucial:

  • Environmental Protection: E-waste contains hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and flame retardants. When landfilled, these toxins can leach into the soil and water, contaminating our ecosystems. Recycling ensures these materials are extracted and processed safely.
  • Resource Recovery: According to University of Waterloo researchers, e-waste per person in Canada has "more than tripled in the last two decades" and is expected to continue rising. Many electronic components contain valuable metals and rare earth elements. Recycling these materials reduces the need for virgin resource extraction, which can be destructive to natural habitats.
  • Reduced Health Risks: Improper e-waste disposal can expose people to harmful toxins, posing health risks. Recycling ensures proper dismantling and processing, minimizing exposure risks.

What Electronics Can Be Recycled in Ontario?

The good news is that a wide variety of electronics can be recycled in Ontario. Here's a general list of accepted items:

  • Computers and Laptops: Desktops, laptops, tablets, monitors, keyboards, mice, and external hard drives.
  • Televisions: Flat-screen and CRT televisions.
  • Audio/Video Equipment: DVD players, VCRs, stereos, speakers, and home theater systems.
  • Cell Phones and Smartphones: Including all accessories like chargers and batteries.
  • Small Electronics: Calculators, cameras, e-readers, gaming consoles, and small appliances.

Important Note: Always check with your local recycler for their specific list of accepted items, as some may have limitations.

What E-Waste Can’t be Recycled in Ontario, Canada?

While Ontario has a robust e-waste recycling program, there are some items that cannot be accepted at regular drop-off locations. Here's what typically isn't included:

  • Household Hazardous Waste: This includes items like batteries (except those included with electronics), fluorescent bulbs, thermostats, and mercury-containing devices. These require specialized handling due to their hazardous materials. Check with your municipality for designated hazardous waste disposal facilities.
  • Appliances: Large appliances like refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, stoves, and dishwashers are typically not accepted in e-waste programs. Some municipalities may have specific collection programs for these items, or some retailers might offer take-back options when purchasing new appliances.
  • Medical Waste: Items like syringes, lancets, and other medical equipment cannot be disposed of in electronics recycling. Contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy for proper disposal procedures.
  • Smoke Detectors and CO Detectors: These often contain small amounts of radioactive material and require special handling. Look for specific disposal instructions from the manufacturer or your local municipality.
  • Textiles and Furniture: Even if electronic components are embedded in furniture or textiles (e.g., recliner with built-in massage function), these items are not accepted in e-waste recycling. Check with regular waste disposal guidelines or donation opportunities for these items.

Always check with your chosen e-waste collection point for their specific list of accepted and excluded items. Some locations may have additional limitations.

Finding a Drop-Off Location in Ontario

Recycling your e-waste is easier than ever in Ontario. Here are some resources to help you find a convenient drop-off location:

  • Recycle My Electronics (RME): A national not-for-profit organization providing trusted program management for electronics recycling across Canada [https://www.recyclemyelectronics.ca/]. Their website offers a user-friendly search tool to locate RME-registered drop-off depots near you.
  • Municipal Websites: Many Ontario municipalities have information about local e-waste recycling programs on their websites.
  • Retailers: Some electronics retailers offer take-back programs, allowing you to return your old electronics when purchasing new ones.

Tips for Drop-Off:

  • Data Security: For devices that store data (computers, smartphones etc.), ensure you've properly erased your personal information before drop-off.
  • Call Ahead: It's a good idea to call your chosen drop-off location beforehand to confirm their hours of operation and any specific requirements they may have.
  • Prepare Your Items: Some locations may ask you to separate electronics by category. Check if there are any fees associated with drop-off.

Does it Cost Money to Recycle E-Waste in Ontario, Canada?

In Ontario, the cost of recycling e-waste generally falls under two categories:

  • Free Drop-Off: The majority of e-waste recycling programs in Ontario operate on a free drop-off basis. This means you can bring your unwanted electronics to designated collection points without any direct charges. The program itself is funded by the manufacturers and retailers through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fees added to the purchase price of electronics.
  • Potential Exceptions: While most drop-off locations are free, there might be a few exceptions. Here are some possibilities:
    • Large Appliances: Large appliances like refrigerators, freezers, washers, and dryers are typically not accepted in standard e-waste programs. Some municipalities might have separate collection programs for these items, and there could be associated fees.
    • Specific Collection Events: Occasionally, some e-waste collection events might have minimal fees to cover operational costs.
    • Private Recyclers: A small number of private e-waste recyclers might charge processing fees, although this is less common.

It's always best to check with your chosen e-waste collection point for any potential fees before drop-off.

Is it Illegal to Throw out E-Waste in Canada?

There isn't a single federal law in Canada that explicitly bans throwing out e-waste everywhere. However, the situation is more nuanced:

  • Provincial Regulations: Each province has its own environmental regulations, and most, including Ontario, have implemented Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs for electronic waste. These programs make manufacturers and retailers responsible for the collection and recycling of certain electronics at their end-of-life. So, while not technically illegal to toss electronics, there are strong policies in place to encourage responsible recycling.
  • Environmental Hazards: E-waste contains hazardous materials that can leach toxins into the environment if landfilled. Improper disposal can violate provincial environmental protection acts, potentially resulting in fines.
  • Municipal Bylaws: Many municipalities have bylaws that dictate waste disposal practices. These bylaws may specifically prohibit throwing out e-waste, requiring residents to use designated e-waste collection points.

In conclusion, while there might not be a blanket "illegal" label, throwing out e-waste in Canada is strongly discouraged due to environmental regulations, provincial EPR programs, and potential municipal bylaws. The responsible option is to utilize Ontario's convenient e-waste recycling programs.

Beyond Drop-Off Programs: Other E-Waste Recycling Options

  • Producer Responsibility Programs: In Ontario, manufacturers and retailers are responsible for the collection and recycling of certain electronics under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulation. As a consumer, look for designated collection points at participating retailers.
  • E-Waste Collection Events: Some municipalities and organizations host occasional e-waste collection events, offering a convenient way to dispose of your unwanted electronics.

While H2 Compliance North America isn't directly involved in operating collection centers, their dedication to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) compliance can significantly benefit Ontario's e-waste recycling landscape. By working with producers to navigate EPR regulations and ensuring responsible product end-of-life management, H2 Compliance North America indirectly contributes to a more sustainable future for electronics in Canada. Their expertise empowers producers to fulfill their obligations, ultimately strengthening Ontario's robust e-waste recycling program.

Working Together for a Sustainable Future

By making a conscious effort to recycle our e-waste, we can significantly reduce our environmental impact and contribute to a more sustainable future. The Ontario e-waste recycling program offers a convenient and responsible solution for disposing of your old electronics. So, take action today and find a drop-off location near you!


  • Visit the Recycle My Electronics website [https://www.recyclemyelectronics.ca/] to find a drop-off location near you.
  • Explore your municipal website for local e-waste recycling program information.
  • Consider take-back programs offered by electronics retailers.