Electronic waste or e-waste refers to any old or discarded appliance or equipment that’s no longer useful. The biggest culprits include heating and cooling systems, TVs, radios, computers, monitors, printers, microwaves, and cellphones.
The amount of e-waste is growing significantly, representing over 2% of the trash in our landfills. While this must seem like a small percentage, e-waste accounts for over 70% of toxic waste worldwide.
Electronics and electric devices contain potentially dangerous materials and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and chromium.
Without proper e-waste disposal, these toxic materials pose severe risks to the environment and human health.
This is where the significance of e-waste recycling comes into play.
What is E-Waste Recycling?
E-waste recycling refers to the reprocessing, recovering, and reusing of valuable materials obtained from discarded electronics and electrical equipment and appliances.
Electronics and electrical appliances contain valuable materials such as plastic, glass, mercury, metals, and circuit boards that are potentially harmful to the environment but can be reused to produce other equipment.
The primary objective of recycling is to collect and process waste into reusable materials, consequently protecting the environment from harm and conserving natural resources.
Regrettably, only a small percentage of electronic waste gets recycled, with very few states having legislation on the same, meaning a significant amount ends up in landfills.
In addition, only a few junk removal companies offer e-waste recycling services.
A Breakdown of the E-Waste Recycling Process
E-waste recycling is an intricate process made up of about seven steps:
Step 1 – Collection
The first step entails collecting discarded electronic products from recycling bins placed at designated locations across your neighborhood. The containers are usually blue with a recycling symbol to avoid mixing the e-waste with other trash. Some collection sites have different boxes for different electronic waste.
Step 2 – Transportation
Once the recycler collects the e-waste from the designated collection sites, they have to transport it to the recycling plant for processing and storage. Some electrical items require immediate processing and storage to contain hazardous materials and save valuable resources. For instance, the glass on older TV models with CRTs has lead that is potentially harmful to the environment.
Step 3 – Sorting, Dismantling, and Shredding
Various e-waste products undergo different processing, so the recycler has to sort them manually before the next stage. Electrical items such as batteries, cellphones, toner cartridges, and fluorescent bulbs have their own processing. For this reason, the recycler has to sort them separately before dismantling or shredding them.
Dismantling and shredding e-waste items entail breaking them into small pieces for easy sorting and processing.
Step 4 – Dust Extraction
Dust might have accumulated over the period the discarded items were in the collection bin. If this is the case, the recycler has to extract it using eco-friendly methods. Dust extraction involves shaking the waste items on a conveyor belt to prepare the e-waste for processing.
Step 5 – Magnetic and Water Separation
The mechanical separation stage involves two critical steps: magnetic and water separation.
Magnetic separation entails passing a giant magnet over ferrous metals to pull and separate steel and iron from other electronic waste to prepare them for smelting. Water separation uses water to separate and purify plastic and glass from other e-waste items.
Step 6 – Purification
Separating the different electronic waste is not sufficient to recover valuable materials. The recycler has to purify salvaged items. The purification stage locates and extracts leftover metals from plastics to prepare them for the last step – the recycling process.
Step 7 – Recovery & Recycling
The final stage is recovering, recycling, and preparing the materials for reuse. Some recyclers sell the recovered items and components to manufacturers as raw materials.
The Top Benefits of E-Waste Recycling
- Recovery of Valuable Materials
Electronics and electrical devices consist of valuable materials such as gold, steel, and copper. However, only a tiny percentage, less than 20%, of these materials get recovered through recycling. Most of it gets lost in the landfills as part of other trash. Enforcing several recycling programs can help salvage these valuable materials.
- Environmental Protection
The primary reason for e-waste recycling is to collect and process electronic waste into reusable materials, consequently protecting the environment from harm. Electrical devices and products consist of potentially hazardous materials that can contaminate our water sources and destroy our ecological systems.
- Preservation of Natural Resources
The priority of e-waste recycling is environmental protection and preservation of natural resources. By recycling and reusing waste materials, manufacturers no longer have to source fresh raw materials such as metal, steel, and copper. They can acquire these items from recyclers, helping conserve natural resources.
- Saves Landfills
According to the World Health Organization, the amount of electronic waste is growing at an alarming rate. With very few countries and states embracing e-waste recycling, it is just a matter of time before our landfills become overwhelmed. E-waste recycling can help reduce the burden on our dumping sites.
- Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Another benefit of recycling is the decreased greenhouse gas emissions. E-waste recycling can help lower carbon emissions and reduce the impact of pollution on climate change.
- Saves Money
According to various stats, electronic waste that finds its way to landfills and dumping sites amounts to $55 billion annually. E-waste recycling can help recover some of the money lost by reusing salvaged materials to produce other items.
- Health benefits
You might not know this, but e-waste recycling has several health benefits. The process prevents hazardous materials from polluting the air and contaminating water sources, going a long way to averting chronic respiratory conditions and ailments.
Contact Junk King Sonoma for Professional E-Waste Recycling
E-waste is not biodegradable, meaning it does not disappear on its own. The waste finds its way to our dumping grounds, leading to pollution and environmental degradation. The danger produced from e-waste comes from the toxic materials used to make electronics and electrical devices.
E-waste recycling is a viable solution to dealing with electronic waste, and this is where the services of Junk King come to play.
We are an experienced Junk Removal service providing e-waste recycling in Sonoma and surrounding regions. Contact us today to learn more about our green e-waste recycling services.