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Recycling of old electronic devices

Recycling of old electronic devices

E-waste pollutes the air, water and soil. However, by collecting these wastes, we can both keep our environment clean and positively affect the lives of thousands of poor people.

The amount of e-waste is not at a level we can ignore
When electronic devices are left in landfills, very harmful substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium enter the soil and water. Unfortunately, the e-waste problem is bigger than you might think. If we compare all currently living whales and the amount of e-waste in a year in the United States, we find that there is more e-waste, which is scary but true.

A global problem
Some countries send their e-waste abroad to very underdeveloped countries. The kids working there are scrapping this garbage and it's in great danger. Most of them are not even aware of this danger. It's almost fatal for these kids to throw this garbage away.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
Electronic consumption is increasing worldwide. Every year we produce more e-waste than the previous year. Fifty percent of Africa's e-waste comes from the continent. China throws away 750 million electronic devices every year.
What you can do as an individual against the problem of electronic waste
Although healthy and functional recycling is absolutely essential at this point, we can of course do something about this electronic waste within our own four walls. The most important of these is, of course, the repair and use of used electronics. While the former owners are selling near-zero products, we can have our electronic device repaired for very small sums, or even have it repaired at our home, it is necessary not to create new e-waste potential.

We know that it is impossible to solve this big problem alone. But awareness of this terrible danger is only the beginning.
What does e-waste include?
E-waste contains valuable resources that can be reused. Legacy electronics such as broken smartphones and discarded washing machines include cast metals (such as copper and iron), ceramics and glass, critical metals and, increasingly, plastics.

Impurities in plastics such as cadmium, lead or mercury and additives such as brominated flame retardants are problematic. As mentioned, pollutants and greenhouse gases from scrap pollute the environment and climate. It may also have adverse health effects and require WEEE to be collected separately from other household waste. The separate collection also serves to recycle the valuable materials found there.
How does recycling work?
Depending on the device type, reprocessing (eg repairing an old device) and disposal will only occur in the single-digit percentage range.

Recycling includes mechanical, thermal and chemical processes that allow materials to be reused. The current recycling practice basically consists of three things: impurities are removed manually, then the materials are mechanically crushed in several stages, and then the materials are separated from each other.

In addition to impurities, a distinction is made between ferrous and non-ferrous metals, plastics and minerals. Ferrous metals are generally used in steelmaking, while non-ferrous metals are used in the copper process, where certain metals can be further separated from each other.

What is difficult or impossible to recycle?
The recycling of electronic devices has so far been limited to cast metals such as iron, steel, copper, aluminum and easily recoverable precious metals. Global recycling rates of rare earth elements, tantalum, gallium, and indium are below one percent. For example, in smartphones they only exist in small quantities and are arranged in complex shapes, making them expensive to recycle.

Toxic flame retardants such as tetrabromobisphenol found in older generation small appliances prevent high-quality recycling of plastics. Flame retardants can be found, for example, in the heating of household appliances and in information and communication technology.