Electronic waste produces dangerous chemicals like lead, cadmium, beryllium, mercury, etc. When we dispose of gadgets and devices improperly, these hazardous materials have a high risk of polluting the air, contaminating soil, and leeching into water sources, therefore affecting humans.
Ways to recycle e-waste include:
Consumer recycling options consists of selling or donating computers directly to organizations in need, sending devices directly back to their original manufacturers, or getting components to a convenient recycler or refurbishing company.
Scrapping E-waste recycling process involves the following steps:
- Sorting: When the e-waste arrives at the recycling plant, these-wastes are sorted manually and batteries are removed in the case of laptops, HDD, Memories are sorted from the rest.
- Disassembly: After sorting manually, the second step involves a serious labor intensive process of manual dismantling. The e-waste items are taken apart to retrieve all the parts and then categorized into core materials and components. The dismantled items are then separated into various categories into parts that can be re-used or still continue the recycling processes. Plastics are also separated from metals.
- First size reduction process: This step involves the shredding of items that could not be dismantled efficiently to pieces 2 inches in diameter. This precedes the second size reduction process which further categorizes e-waste into finer pieces.
- Second size reduction process: The finer e-waste particles are then evenly spread out through an automated shaking process on a conveyor belt. The well spread out e-waste pieces are then broken down further. At this stage, any dust is extracted and discarded in a way that does not endanger the environment.
- Over-band Magnet: At this step, an over-band magnet is used to remove all the magnetic materials including steel and iron from the e-waste debris.
- Non-metallic and metallic components separation: This is the separation of metals and non-metallic components. Copper, aluminum, gold, bronze, silver, and brass are separated from the debris to only leave behind non-metallic materials. The metals are either sold as raw materials or re-used for fresh manufacturing of other products.
- Water Separation: As the last step, plastic components are separated from glass by use of water. Once separated, all the materials retrieved can then be resold as raw materials for re-use. The products sold include plastic, glass, copper, iron, steel, shredded circuit boards, and valuable metal mixtures.
The recycled components such as glass (from monitors, phone screens, TV screens etc.), plastic, metal, etc. can all be reused.
The plastic components retrieved are sent to recyclers who use them to manufacture items such as fence posts, plastic sleepers, plastic trays, vineyard stakes, equipment holders, plastic chairs, and toys, among other plastic products.
Metal such as retrieved copper and steel are sent to recyclers to manufacture new metal products.
Glass is retrieved from the Cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) mostly found in televisions and computer monitors. Extracting glass for recycling from CRTs is a more complicated task since CRTs are composed of several hazardous materials. Lead is the most dangerous and can adversely harm human health and the environment. Other toxic metals such as barium and phosphor are also contained in CRT tubes. To achieve the best environmentally friendly glass extraction, other steps are taken to ensure a specialized CRT recycling.