When electronic devices (tablets, cellphones, monitors, etc.) are discarded and recycled, they become what is known as “e-waste.” Some of these electronics may have reached the end of their “useful life,” while others are simply considered obsolete by way of not being the latest version. There are often several types of hazardous and toxic chemicals found in electronics (lead, chromium, brominated flame retardants) that may easily harm human beings and the environment if electronics are not properly recycled.
An important aspect of electronic recycling is the process of reusing certain materials that make up these products to build new devices. Unfortunately, only 20% of e-waste is documented to have been formally collected and recycled, according to a 2019 report from the United Nations’ environment program.
The Electronic Recycling Process
The electronic recycling process may vary based on the types of materials being recycled and the methods used to dispose of and reuse these materials. However, it generally consists of three stages: collection and transportation, shredding and separation, and preparation for sale as recycled materials. Here is a close analysis of each of these steps.
Collection And Transportation
The first part of the initial step of the e-recycling process involves setting up collection bins or other similar containers in specified sites. These bins should be large and sturdy enough to hold a substantial number of devices. The second part consists of transporting the collected devices from these locations to facilities specifically designed for recycling electronics. Trucks are typically ideal for e-waste transportation, as they can transport large quantities of products.
Shredding, Sorting, And Separation
Following the collection and transportation of e-waste, all of the materials found in these devices need to be processed and efficiently separated into clean products that may be utilized to manufacture new goods. When electronic devices are shredded, metals and other internal circuits are separated from the plastics.
A powerful magnet is often used to separate metals from the e-waste stream on a conveyor belt. These metals are then prepared to be sold as recycled steel. Certain more advanced mechanical processes exist to separate copper, aluminum, and other materials. In order to separate plastics and glass, special water technology is often utilized. The most effective way to ensure that the e-waste has been purified is to remove as many metal parts from the plastics as possible.
Sale Of Recycled Materials
Once the shredding, sorting, and separation processes are complete, the newly separated materials are made ready for sale as productive raw materials, which in turn may be used to manufacture new products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling 1 million cell phones can lead to the recovery of approximately 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium, and 35,000 pounds of copper.
The electronic recycling process is often difficult to manage and oversee for many reasons, the primary one being that there is currently no federal law in the United States that dictates proper e-waste procedures. In fact, only 19 states have laws that specifically prohibit the use of regular trash bins to discard electronics, according to a 2019 Time Magazine article.
Some Companies Charge For Disposal Of Certain Devices
Although many electronic stores accept devices that are no longer useful, some occasionally charge customers for disposal. This leads many people who are unaware of safe e-waste methods to simply throw their products in the garbage and thus inadvertently contribute to damaging the natural environment, including sources of water and nearby wildlife. Additionally, if the high levels of lead found in e-waste become released into the atmosphere, this could potentially lead to severe damage to human kidneys and blood, among other parts of the body.
Seek Professional Electronic Recycling Services With e-End
Reach out to the professionals at e-End in Frederick, Maryland for more information on electronic recycling and its benefits. We are one of the most respected organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region due to the fact that we have achieved the National Association for Information Destruction’s (NAID®) AAA Certification for specialized data destruction services. We are highly dedicated to protecting our environment and always perform downstream due diligence in every step of our processes. We also have a zero-landfill policy on all materials processed.
The experienced team at e-End can help you recycle many different types of electronic devices, including computer equipment (CPUs, keyboards, monitors, hard drives, SSDs, etc.), communications equipment (cell phones, audio devices, satellite dishes, etc.), and other special equipment (plasma screens, medical devices, microscopes, industrial lighting, etc.). Call e-End today at (240) 713-5855 or contact us online to learn more about our electronic recycling services.