Putting electronic waste in its place

When Alan Forbes organized OLG Casino Thunder Bay’s first community e-waste collection in 2010, he never expected such an overwhelming response. All day long, cars lined up to unload a whopping 62,000 pounds of cellphones, computers, games, televisions, radios and a slew of other unwanted electronics.
“We had an old Commodore 64, old slide projectors, typewriters,” Alan says. “All kinds of stuff.”
He was thrilled. As the co-founder of OLG Casino Thunder Bay’s Bet on Green team, Alan knows just how much hazardous material e-waste contains. If it gets tossed in a landfill, all that mercury, lead, dioxins and other e-trash could end up in the water table.

 Alan Forbes, Bet on Green champion at OLG Casino Thunder Bay. © OLG
Alan Forbes, Bet on Green champion at OLG Casino Thunder Bay. © OLG

Spurred on by that success, Alan organized a collection almost every year since. He has no problem finding volunteers to haul and sort all that junk. “Our employees are all very eager to help and they totally get behind stuff like this,” he says.
As for Thunder Bay residents, they’re thrilled at the opportunity to get rid of old technology gathering dust in their basements and closets — and to know that it will be recycled responsibly.
Since that first event, several other Thunder Bay groups have followed the casino’s lead. Other Ontario Lottery & Gaming sites have also been inspired. This year, on May 30th, OLG Casino Point Edward, OLG Casino Thousand Islands, OLG Slots at Clinton Raceway, OLG Slots at Dresden Raceway, OLG Slots at Western Fair District, OLG Slots at Flamboro Downs and corporate offices at OLG Foster Drive in Sault Ste Marie will join Casino Thunder Bay in hosting e-waste collections. “It’s really gratifying to see this important campaign taking off,” says Alan.
His efforts haven’t gone unrecognized. Thunder Bay’s Walleye Magazine profiled Alan under the heading “The Corporate Conscience.” In 2013, he won WWF’s Living Planet @ Work Champion of the Year Award. Meanwhile, Casino Thunder Bay has racked up a 3 Municipal Green Awards from the city and an Environmental Stewardship Award from the local chamber of commerce.
“It really affirms that we’re doing the right thing,” Alan says.
A big thank you to Alan and all the Ontario Lottery & Gaming volunteers organizing e-waste collections this year! If you’d like to take action on e-waste in your workplace, you’ll find some great resources at Living Planet @ Work.