E-waste has been on a dramatic rise after the introduction of smartphones, tablets, headphones, virtual reality gear and other consumable electronic devices. With that in mind, e-waste recycling is now more important than ever before.
What is e-waste recycling?
E-waste is the process of recycling electronic products at or near the end of their “useful life.” These electronic products include computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines, smartphones, tables and many more common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled.
Why E-Waste is so Important
E-waste will be a critical component to saving our environment since most of our consumable electronics are comprised of precious metals, materials, chemicals and more. That is why most of our electronics cost so much initially. As these processes for procuring these materials become more efficient, the cost for these items decreases.
But that’s not enough… When the cost decreases it means supply is high and demand remains high. Thus, these consumables are being consumed at a faster rate.
And, to ensure we properly save the environment, basic waste management steps including recycling, reuse and refurbishing becomes much more important.
All consumables now have a shelf-life. For instance, solar panels have a 30 to 40 year lifespan. At the end of a solar panel lifespan, it’s important that we breakdown the precious metals or refurbish the metals to reuse the technology.
How E-Waste Recycling Works
E-waste recycling can be a bit of a challenge due to the components of the discarded electronics. Like I mentioned above, these electronics are highly complex and usually comprise of glass, precious metals, chemicals and more. The e-waste recycling process usually relies on a number of different processes to ensure safe, reliable recycling of these consumables. The basic steps in e-waste recycling program includes collection, transportation, sorting, shredding, separation and material processing. Let us have a look at each of these steps:
- Collection and Transportation: Transportation requires a long process. First, you have to find collection bins to collect the required materials. These bins are usually scattered across cities making it very hard to collect in an efficient process. Secondly, you will need to haul the fully collected materials to the facility for the actual recycling process.
- Sorting: The next step is to ensure that each compiled electronic waste material is sorted into the specific technology. This is an important step because not all electronic waste is created equal. With e-waste, you have materials that have varying components. Do you think a TV has the same recycling process as an iPhone? It doesn’t. How about vintages of technologies? The recycling needs for an iPhone 4 might be a lot different than an iPhone X. Sorting is critical to building an efficient e-waste process.
- Shredding: Next step is to shred all of the material down into tiny bits so you can prepare for further separation. When you can shred everything down, you can then see how the materials are comprised. You will see the small 100mm pieces of metal or e-waste that you can separate out for the actual recycling process.
- Separation: Finally, usually a powerful overhead magnet will take the shredded material and separate out the variations of precious metals. Electronics have a lot of metal in different variations like steel, copper, aluminum, circuits, etc. Therefore, the process of separating it out is important to ensure you are creating a product recycling output.
After separation, the recycling facility will begin the process of melting down the material and developing it in a form that allows the material to be used down the road. Getting your electronics in the right hands is very important as the decomposing of these metals simply won’t happen for many years if they are put in a landfill.
E-waste recycling is extremely important for consumers to be aware of. You should definitely consider the outcomes of your electronics if they are not properly recycled. Take time in considering where the best place to recycle your electronics may be. Contact your local recycling facilities to see if they offer electronics disposals.
Start recycling your electronics now. We don’t have much time to spare in developing environmentally friendly habits. Don’t let these precious materials end up in a landfill.
Are you ready to start recycling your e-waste? Let us know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.