The ImpulsTec GmbH shockwave process enables almost all components of lithium-ion batteries to be recovered.Read more
E-waste (electronic waste) recycling
With the increasing use of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), the amount of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) that is generated globally is equally growing. E-waste is the most rapidly growing waste problem in the world.
E-waste (or electronics waste) refers to obsolete electronic products or electrical devices that are discarded, and have reached the end of their useful life. The full name for e-waste is Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
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What is electronics waste recycling?
E-waste recycling (or electronics waste recycling) is the process of recovering useful materials, for example, plastics, glass, copper and iron, from obsolete devices to use in new products. This reduces the need for new production.
Most electronics contain some form of harmful materials such as cadmium, beryllium, mercury and lead. In the responsible e-waste recycling process, these harmful substances for human health and environment are safely removed.
Electronic waste management
The keys to success in electronic waste management are:
- Develop eco-design devices where possible
- Properly collect electronic waste
- Recover and recycle by safe methods
- Dispose of e-waste by suitable techniques
- Forbid the transfer of used electronic devices to developing countries
- Raise awareness of the impact of e-waste
No single tool is adequate but together they can complement each other to solve this issue.
A national scheme such as an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a good policy in solving the growing e-waste problem.
In recent years, a revolution has taken place in the world of electronic waste. Both manufacturers and importers of electrical and electronic equipment now see it as their responsibility to collect and recycle these products at their end-of-life.
How to recycle electronic waste
The best guide to how to recycle electronics is to start by finding a certified e-waste recycler.
Industry certification programs have set requirements for safer disposal and recycling of electronic waste. These programs include guidelines that define effective and responsible e-waste management:
- The R2:2013 Standard - The latest version of R2, the electronics recycling industry's leading certification
- The Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ (RIOS™) – The recycling industry’s management system standard for quality, environment and health & safety (QEH&S)
- The e-Stewards initiative - A global team of individuals, institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies upholding a safe, ethical, and globally responsible standard for e-waste recycling and refurbishment.
The e-waste recycling process
E-waste recycling is challenging because discarded electronics devices are advanced devices manufactured from varying proportions of plastics, metals, and glass.
The specific recycling process varies depending upon materials being recycled by e-waste recyclers and the technologies that are employed.
Collection and Transportation: Collection and transportation are two of the initial stages of the e-waste recycling process.
Shredding, Sorting, and Separation: After collection and transportation to the e-waste recycling facility, materials in the e-waste stream must be processed and separated. The process of recycling begins with manual dismantling the device. After this step, a combination of crushers, shredders, density separators, and X-ray sorting technologies are used to sort e-waste into its major recyclable streams including plastics, glass, printed circuit boards, ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
Recycling/Recovery of valuable material - The raw material that remains, such as glass, copper, plastics and metals, can be put to good use for the production of new electronics or other products.
Treatment and disposal of dangerous materials and wastes - The remaining toxic part includes mercury, lead and arsenic which need to be disposed of in a responsible manner for these are lethal substances that could contaminate the soil and groundwater to disastrous consequence.
Challenges for the electronics recycling industry and e-waste recycling centers
- Exports to developing nations – The illegal export of e-waste to countries with lower environmental standards is a major concern.
- Less valuable materials - Although the volume of e-waste is increasing rapidly, the quality of e-waste is decreasing. Currently, it’s a case of increasing disassembly challenges combined with decreasing incentives.
- Controlling chemical exposures - Even in the high-tech formal e-waste recycling centers, challenges still remain in assessing and controlling chemical exposures regularly found in this industry.
- Most E-waste goes to landfills and incinerators - More e-waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators than is being recycled, although recycling numbers continue to rise.
- Re-use - Re-use should be viewed as being reactionary to the current trend of devices being disposed of much earlier than necessary and is about the optimization of the use phase of devices.
Articles about E-Waste Recycling
Metal recycling specialist Light Bros. has boosted its ability to handle refrigerators – one of the UK’s most complex household WEEE applications – with the help of a new UNTHA shredder.Read more
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DRESDEN – The shockwave fragmentation technology is not only a more environmentally friendly way to recycle electronic scrap; it also improves the recovery of raw materials, which can then be fed back into the materials cycle. It is a technology with the potential to be used for a wide range of applications, as proven by ImpulsTec GmbH.Read more
At this year’s IFAT (4–8 May 2020, Hall B4, Stand 351/450) in Munich, BHS-Sonthofen will present a new process for recycling lithium batteries and accumulators.Read more
The Bulgarian company EcoRec has more than 25 years’ experience in the field of WEEE recycling and more than 20 years in auto catalyst recycling.Read more
Today we find electric-motors everywhere! In almost every single small device at least one electric motor is installed and as we all realize this development is continuously growing.Read more
According to a study, each inhabitant of Hong Kong generates an average of 21.7 kg of electronic waste per year, in addition to normal household waste.Read more
SCHOENBERG – Established about 100 years ago as a small recycling company by Albert G. Sims in Sydney, Australia, “Sims Metal Management“ (SMM) has developed into a leading metal recycling enterprise with numerous locations all over the world. As part of the complete SMM group, “Sims Recycling Solutions“ (SRS) is responsible for the environmentally compatible separation and utilisation of electrical and electronic scrap and mixed metals. The company is one of the world‘s biggest e-scrap utilisation and recycling enterprises.Read more
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment: Assessment of Stresses Occurring Along the Logistics Chain
It is a well-known fact that waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) often contains hazardous substances, posing a potential risk to both human health and the environment. These substances or products can for example be heavy metals including mercury, toners and dyes, batteries, and organic pollutants. Of special concern in this case are monitors which […]Read more
Hennemann Umweltservice Elektronik GmbH is headquartered in Espelkamp in North Rhine-Westphalia. The company‘s scope of services comprises the collection, transport, disassembly, and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment including all the necessary project planning, organization and documentation tasks. Since the beginning of 2015 the company has been a member of the Drekopf-Group, a family-run […]Read more