Electronic garbage accounts for more than 5% of all municipal solid waste globally. These discarded electronic goods, sometimes referred to as “e-waste,” frequently end up in landfills – but they shouldn’t. If they’re still usable, some of these objects can be restored or reused. If the e-waste is irrevocably damaged, it should be recycled to recover usable materials.
Also Read: E-waste Recycling
Among the most common electronic goods that can be refurbished or recycled are cell phones, computers, televisions, DVD players, stereos, and printers. Microwaves, refrigerators, air conditioners, lamps, toys, video game consoles, and power tools are among the others.
E-waste recycling recovers useful elements, including valuable metals like gold and copper, that can be used to create new goods. This saves energy by reducing the amount of energy needed to mine, process, and manufacture new materials, as well as lowering pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
However, recent estimates indicate that only around 15% to 20% of all e-waste is recycle internationally. In the United States, the average rate of e-waste recycling is slightly higher, approaching 25%. However, the majority of electronic trash is still disposed of in landfills or burnt, squandering valuable resources and spewing harmful chemicals and other pollutants into the soil, groundwater, and atmosphere, harming the environment.
According to UN statistics, the United States produces 14 percent (almost 6 million tonnes) of the world’s electronic trash. Much of the recovered e-waste is sent overseas to be separated into usable pieces and metals extracted for usage in new goods.
Electronic Recycling’s Risks
Workers who treat e-waste are exposed to dangerous and/or poisonous compounds, which can pose serious health hazards. Dismantling components, chemical processing, and cremation, for example, can all result in direct exposure to the inhalation of harmful compounds. Exposure to lead and other hazardous metals is one such prevalent threat. Mercury, which can be a severe neurotoxin, is another toxic substance found in electronic recycling.
If facilities lack sufficient safety standards, workers and the surrounding community are always at risk of being exposed to hazardous substances. Burning cabling and cables, for example, raises the concentration of dioxins. Which are known to increase the risk of cancer in employees and neighboring households if inhaled. Dioxins can also contribute to air pollution in general.
People who work in these jobs in various poor countries have very restricted economic options. Despite the health dangers, employment in the recycling business is a welcome prospect.
How Is E-Waste Handled?
Plastics are separated from metals and internal circuitry during the e-waste recycling process. Because the e-waste stream must be processed in a way that separates commodities that may be used to manufacture new products. Efficiency in this material separation is the foundation of commercially effective electronics recycling. As a result, physically shredding items into tiny pieces is usually the initial step in e-waste processing.
Specific recycling procedures vary based on the materials being recycled and the technology used, but there are a few steps that are universal. Workers in a recycling facility, for example, may use a conveyor belt with a powerful overhead magnet to remove iron and steel from the trash stream so that it can be readied for resale as recycled steel.
Aluminum, copper, and circuit boards are separated by mechanical processing. As a result, the material stream is primarily made up of plastic. Glass and polymers are frequently separated using water separation technology. To further filter the material stream, the final step is to locate and extract any leftover metal from the polymers. The materials are sorted and readied for sale as usable raw materials for the manufacture of new devices or other products.
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