Education: Where Do All the Tech Toys Go?

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Learning to See Technology Through an Environmental Lens

Today’s students are very tech-savvy, but they may not be as knowledgeable about what happens to their end-of-life electronics. After the fun’s over, all those prized gadgets—from tablets to digital toys—wind up somewhere else. But where? And what is the environmental impact?

Kids at Pinecrest Public School have gotten an eye-opening hands-on lesson, thanks to Ontario Electronic Stewardship, the not-for-profit organization that operates the province’s regulated recycling program. Back in May, OES visited Pinecrest, along with Kanata’s W.O. Mitchell Public School, as part of a 2015 province-wide educational tour involving 32 schools.

The local youngsters were exposed to lots of compelling information and activities focused on what happens to out-of-use technology and why we should care.

Clearly, the kids did and do care. Pinecrest principal Wanda Mills-Boone’s smiling face reflected the enthusiasm of her students. “They already want to recycle, bring things in. They’ve got ideas, already. And we didn’t even get out of the gym,” she commented on the presentation.




For this school year, local students will have access to new curriculum materials that zero in on technology and the environment. These resources have been designed by teachers on behalf of OES. Topics include the science of materials, energy systems and conservation, as well as safe disposal and recycling.

“The goal of the program is to help children recognize that their electronics contain rare and valuable materials, including gold and copper. If they dropped their out-of-use electronics off at an Ontario Electronics Stewardship location, those valuable materials could be reused in other electronics, as opposed to being mined from the earth,” spokesperson Samia Makhlouf points out. She offers some facts to consider:

  • For every one million cell phones recycled, 35,000 pounds of copper and 75 pounds of gold can be recovered.
  • The gold recovered from recycled phones produces 324 times more gold than from the same weight of ore processed in a traditional mine.

Here’s another fact:

  • 67 million devices have been diverted from landfill since the OES program started in 2009.

“We hope that students will take the lesson home to their families and help them understand that recycling electronics is important for our planet,” Samia adds.

The up-to-date education modules are also available online. To check them out as a family, see

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