Giving second life to electronic waste

If you walked into his office on any given day you might find Garry Schakel, the manager of Electronic Waste Depot, surrounded by a small mountain of computers tinkering away in an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Garry Schakel

Garry Schakel

If you walked into his office on any given day you might find Garry Schakel, the manager of Electronic Waste Depot, surrounded by a small mountain of computers tinkering away in an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The depot strives to provide a service similar to Free Geek Vancouver, the giants of computer recycling, but on a local level.

You can give a second life to your computer, cell phone or television by donating it. The depot will repair what they can and then donate the electronics to an agency that serves low income individuals and families.

“It keeps me going,” said Schakel on the feeling he gets when he refurbishes a laptop or television and it goes to a person with a disability or a family in need. “I think the public can share in that feeling too because their used items don’t just get burned or sent straight to the landfill.”

Electronic Waste Depot also sells refurbished electronics to the public at a fraction of the price of buying new.

“Not only will you get a great computer at a low price and fantastic value but you will also do your part to help the environment,” Schakel said.

The success of Electronic Waste Depot is directly related to the support of Penticton and Area Co-operative Enterprises (PACE), Regional District Okanagan Similkameen, and the Recycling Council of British Columbia.

Most recently, PACE, which aims to give meaningful employment to people with disabilities, along with Community Futures and Moving Forward, a program designed to offer people with disabilities the tools to launch and run their business, is helping Schakel make sure he’s off to a successful start.

Even in difficult times, Schakel was able to find work in electronic repair but often struggled with certain aspects of the business. That’s when his counsellor at PACE suggested contacting Community Futures.

Although new to the Moving Forward program, Schakel has already seen the benefits of being financially organized and the possibilities that come with marketing.

“Community Futures gives me the confidence to feel I can do this. Seeing videos of other people with disabilities achieving success gives me hope.”

Located in the heart of Penticton, at the corner of Martin and Estabrook, the business serves areas from around the Okanagan.

The influx of e-waste drop off’s has evolved the business into a hub for recycling all types of electronic waste in an effort to reduce the impact on local landfills.

“If we can’t rebuild it and get it into someone’s hands, we break it down into components, pack it on skids and ship it off for proper recycling,” said Schakel. “Don’t just dump your stuff at a big ‘end of life’ plant. Learn about electronic waste on our website and drop it off so we can make it new or recycle it. It’s very important to our community. We take pride in our environment, our city and try to help out those in need.”

If you have items for drop off, visit the Electronic Waste Depot at 103-105 Martin Street.

Or, visit their website at to find a drop off location in your area and more information.

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