E-waste is not just a plain waste. The many different components that you can find in it are opening a completely new chapter, so instead simply disposed in landfills it can be re-used or recycled and re-join in the country’s economy. It contains useful elements that can be back into commerce, to create jobs and to bring about economic development.
Increasing the recycling rate of all electronic devices is not only imperative for protecting public health, but also for conserving natural resources. The challenge for the planet is educating consumers, developing a convenient infrastructure that recycles e-waste responsibly, and covering the costs.
This is how responsible e-waste recycling carries great benefits for the economy and for the environment:
- Allows recovery of valuable precious metals.
Three main materials being recovered from e-waste are metals, glass and plastics. It is believed that the e-waste has about 50% non-colored metal, about 5% colored metals and 20-25% plastics. Printed Wiring Boards (PWB) contain the highest value metals as well as some of the most toxic metals found in electronics scrap.There are 10 to 100 times more precious metals in PWBs than in an equal weight of ore taken from a mine. For example: in traditional gold-mining operations, a company would need to move an entire ton of ore to extract 1 gram of gold. But, through the far simpler and cheaper process of recycling, it is possible to extract the same amount of gold from 41 discarded mobile phones.
While some of these mined metals eventually end up as pieces of jewelry or other valuables, more often than not they are used to create common household electronics.
The majority of electronic devices are currently being recovered for precious metals (gold, silver and platinum) and copper.
- Protects environment and public health.
Recycling disables long e-waste disposal in the landfills. That means that e-waste toxins can’t be released into the atmosphere or seep in through the land and have negative health and environmental effects.
About 50% of the WEEE mass consists of colored metals, mainly steel. Collection and recycling of this material is usually achieved savings of 74% energy, 76% of water pollution and 86% air pollution in relation to primary production of steel.
- Creating jobs
Recycling e-waste creates jobs for professional recyclers and refurbishers and creates new markets for the valuable components that are dismantled.
Materials recycling from waste generate 5-7 times more jobs than required for combustion, and 10 times more jobs than it takes to remove the landfill. The EU thematic strategy on prevention and recycling is considering that waste management and recycling sector in the EU27 are provided from 1.2 to 1.5 million jobs.
For better explanation, these means that on every 1,000 tons of waste electronics:
– Landfilled less than 1 job is created
– Recycled 15 jobs are created
– Repaired 200 jobs are created (on the other hand this activity is providing the opportunity for low income students and families to obtain low-cost working computers)
- Saves landfill space.
Recycling e-waste will help conserve landfill space. While the weight represented by used electronics is not dramatic, the volume that these items represent in landfills is proportionally more significant because of the bulk and rigidity of these materials. Recycling eliminates the need to build the equivalent of one new large landfill each year, either at a remote, rural location or near a residential neighborhood, thus avoiding environmental concerns, such as air and water pollution and truck traffic.
Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem. Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided. Additionally, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of new products. It simply makes good sense and is efficient to recycle and to do our part to keep the environment green.
To be continued …