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what is e waste recycling

After shredding e-waste into tiny pieces, valuable materials are extracted that can be used in new electronic appliances. Several current challenges are preventing the electronic recycling industry from growing. We explore the e-waste recycling process and why it is vital to scale up this industry to celebrate International E-Waste Day 2023.

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Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the term used to describe discarded electrical appliances. Around 50-60 million tons of electronic waste are produced each year. This is equivalent to just 2-3% of global annual waste. The damage this waste can cause to our environment and health may be greater than the combined destructive power of other wastes. E-waste is made up of toxic materials such as beryllium and lead. When exposed to UV light or corroded, these toxic materials can be released into the air, soil, or water.

It is important to note that some governmental and private organizations may offer free services to collect electronic waste from homes. These include large electronic devices like air conditioners and refrigerators. These organizations or businesses ensure that valuable parts are removed from your e-waste for possible second uses and harmful materials are separated before the remainder is sent to landfills.

Recycling E-waste Has Many Benefits

Including protecting human health and the planet. Recycling these materials will prevent the suspension of essential consumer goods in our daily lives until substitutes can be found. Recycling non-renewable minerals can still have economic benefits, even if they are familiar.

For example, the price of lithium has risen dramatically. Lithium is a non-renewable mineral, but it’s relatively common and can be found almost anywhere. Lithium has many uses, but it is best known for its use in producing rechargeable batteries for electric cars. Demand for lithium soared as the public became more interested in electric vehicles and their potential to reduce carbon emissions. The market is unable to meet this sudden increase in demand. This is not due to scarcity but rather the slow pace at which lithium extraction and refinement occurs. Recycling lithium-ion batteries will provide an additional supply of lithium to the market, allowing businesses to produce batteries and electric vehicles that are customer-friendly and environmentally friendly at a lower price.

How does E-Waste recycling work?

E-waste is more complex to recycle than conventional waste. Manual sorting is usually the first step in the recycling process. Workers sort eWaste according to its type and model once it is transported to recycling facilities. All electronic devices are examined, and the parts that can still be used are removed. They can be sold individually or combined to create a new computer or phone. All e-waste that is no longer functional will be sent for recycling.

The e-waste will be thrown in an enormous machine to shred into small pieces. But before this, the e-waste must go through de-manufacturing. This is the process of disassembling products into their component parts. The procedure removes all potentially hazardous materials from electronic devices, which can destroy machines or pollute the environment when disposed of in landfills. Toner in photocopiers is flammable and explosive. It can blow up processing equipment, as it can also be used as a fuel source. Skilled workers must carry out this process.

Metals Will Be Separated After The Waste Has Been Shredded

These valuable metals are what make e-waste recycling profitable. This process is not manual sorting like the previous sessions. The giant magnet first attracts all the ferromagnetic materials like steel and iron that are highly magnetized. Further mechanical processing then separates other alloys and metals using a physical principle called Eddy Current. This is where materials like paramagnetic, which are only weakly magnetic, will be pushed away by an alternating magnetic current with a repellent force. Other non-magnetic materials, such as plastic, will continue to move forward.

The waste is then further separated using water. At this point, the majority of materials are non-magnetic. They will be sent through a machine with water where materials with a low density relative, mainly plastics, will flow while other materials like glass will sink. Before the recycled materials are sold, checking for any valuable materials stuck to plastic is essential.

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what is e waste recycling

Current Recycling Challenges

Statista reports that only 17.4% (of the e-waste) was recycled in 2019. This is because most electronic devices are not designed to be recycled. The batteries of smartphones are no longer removable and are lighter and thinner, making recycling more difficult. Manual sorting exposes workers to toxic substances over time, even if the level is low. These devices are difficult to recycle and require recycling facilities to upgrade their equipment to keep up with technology.

The recycling industry has another problem: only 10 of the 60 chemical elements in electronic waste can be recycled mechanically. These include gold, silver, and platinum.

Recycling e-waste prevents toxic substances from entering our bodies and the environment. It also reduces harmful environmental impacts caused by mining and extracting virgin materials. The potential economic benefits of this industry are enormous. In 2019, the e-waste discarded alone was valued at more than US$57 Billion. There are still many challenges to overcome before the industry reaches its full potential. This includes the need for electronic manufacturers and producers to design more recycling-friendly products and to conduct further research into mechanical processing to recycle other chemical elements.

eCycle Florida is an R2 Certified electronics recycling company in the state of Florida. Our processes and procedures are dedicated to the proper destruction and recycling of your electronics. eCycle Florida is your go-to when looking for an electronic recycling center in Florida. Check out the services in the multitude of industries that we offer: 

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In a hurry? call us now at (813) 463-0079