Increase in electronic consumerism has given rise to the problem of e-waste with substantial negative impact on the environment. The only way out seems to be through recycling the old devices. Of course, this should be the last step in electronic waste management – to be taken up after exhausting other alternatives like reusing and repairing your old devices and their components. Electronics recycling is playing a major role in e-waste management and has a number of benefits attached to it. Let’s see how it helps us save the environment and natural resources.
Why recycle your electronic products?
Old electronic devices contain valuable materials and components that can be used in producing or assembling new products. This lightens the burden on virgin natural resources and also saves the energy that would be required to harvest them.
The electronic products also contain several hazardous materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, etc. which if sent to landfills can contaminate soil, groundwater and other natural resources. So, recycling and recovering these materials prevents environmental pollution.
[Read our Battery Disposal and Recycling Tips]
Recycling e-waste also has an economic impact. It helps bring down the cost of the product, making it affordable for needy, poor and low income users. It also helps create local job opportunities in the community.
Given the fact that almost all electronic gadgets are recyclable, it is of utmost importance that we adopt this practice for sustainable living.
How are electronic devices recycled?
There are different varieties of electronic devices and hence the specific process for recycling each type would also differ. However, more or less, the overall steps involved would include the following:
- Any existing data on the devices is wiped off or destroyed.
- The devices are dismantled and useful components are collected. After proper quality check, those pieces that can be used as is or with some modification are sent for reuse or resale.
- Different metals and materials are separated and sorted. Some of these (e.g. mostly metals like copper, brass and aluminum) may be resold; the rest are shredded into small pieces. These are then washed and sent to the recycling plant.
- Any leftover (e.g. dust and powder) after the recycling process is disposed of as per local environmental laws.
Depending upon the size of recycling, the process can be automatized at different stages. Magnets are often used to separate iron and steel from other metals. Similarly, water is used to isolate plastic from glass, and conveyor belt can be used for sorting shredded material.
Since electronics recycling is a complicated process, it’s usually not within the direct reach of an individual. But fortunately enough, there are companies like Green Buyback that can organize the recycling for you right from their website. This would not cost you anything but rather get you some money for your old mobile phones and electronic devices even if they are broken. And the best part is – you are contributing in keeping the earth green and safe for future generations!