Electronic waste or also known as e-waste or e-scrap is the trash being generated from broken, outdated, and surplus electronic devices. And the amount of e-scrap increases every year due to the availability of new and affordable devices. In fact, a World Economic Forum report states that the amount of e-waste stream in 2018 alone is 4.5 million tonnes!
Fortunately, there is an option to reduce electronic trash and that is through recycling. And in this entry, we are going to tackle some basic question about what e-waste recycling is and why it is important to properly dispose these types of waste for the sake of our environment.
E-Waste Recycling Defined
In essence, e-waste recycling is the process of reclaiming materials and other parts of old electronic devices so that is can be used in new products. Electronic gadgets are full of valuable metals like copper, aluminum, tin, iron, titanium, silver, and even gold. Likewise, most of these devices have recyclable parts such as glass and plastic.
And it would be a shame to throw away these things as we can actually retrieve them and use these resources again to create new electronics and other consumer products.
Why It’s Important To Recycle Electronic Waste?
One of the obvious reasons why there is a need to recycle electronic waste is to reduce our carbon footprint and to preserve the environment. But aside from that, it can also benefit us from an economic standpoint.
In addition, here are the other reasons why it’s important to recycle electronic waste:
- Sustainable source of precious metals – Gold is a valuable resource. But apparently, only 15% of this raw material is successfully recovered from electronics. Recycling of electronics allows us to salvage this precious metal without mining gold deposits from the earth (a process that can be harmful to the environment).
- Solid Waste Management – Recycling can also help us manage the rapid generation of e-waste due to the explosion of advanced electronic devices which, in effect, has also caused the life cycle of these products to be shortened.
- Proper Processing Of Toxic Materials – The inner parts of electronic gadgets contain harmful substances such as lead, cadmium, chromium, and mercury. And recycling enables us to process these materials so it won’t be released to our environment. Furthermore, it also saves us from being exposed to these heavy metals and other toxic substances.
- Laws Governing The Movement And Disposal Of E-Waste – And lastly, proper recycling of electronics ensures us that these types of waste are properly processed and disposed according to the law. And as a result, we prevent the uncontrolled movement of electronic waste to developing countries like Africa where access to proper waste disposal is not widely practiced.
How Electronic Recycling Works?
Electronics can be hard to discard. So certain sophisticated methods should be followed to retrieve different materials which, may vary according to the kind of material to be recovered (metal, glass, plastic). But in order to give you an idea of how it works, here are the steps to recycling electronics:
- Collection & Transportation – The devices are placed in collection bins and then transported to recycling plants for processing.
- Sorting, Shredding, & Separation – Once the e-waste is delivered to the recycling facility, it will then undergo an initial shredding to cut down the devices in smaller pieces (approx. 100mm) and then sorted into different raw materials through mechanical processing (for retrieving aluminum, copper, and precious metals), magnets (for extracting iron and steel), and water separation (for recovering glass). The remaining remnants will go through a more advanced sorting process to separate the remaining metals from plastic.
- Preparation For Next Use As Recycled Materials – After the recycling process is completed, the different raw materials will then be prepared to be used as new resources for producing new devices and other products.
All in all, e-waste recycling is a sustainable process of repurposing different materials and put them into good use. And it’s not only an eco-friendly process of disposing electronic waste, but also a beneficial method of manufacturing new things to benefit a nation’s economy.
If you want to help recycle your e-waste in Africa, check out NamiGreen’s website for more information.