The Process of Electronics Recycling

Technology has been soaring since the 1990s and continues to move our lifestyles at a faster pace. If not properly guided and monitored, improper disposal of electronic equipment can lead to lasting environmental and health hazards. The craze to get the latest and newest gadgets in the tech market has led to the piling up of electronic waste. This calls for an urgent need to recycle these unused electronics. In fact, in 2015 New Yorkers have been forbidden to dispose of their electronics equipment.

The decision to recycle your electronics is the first step. Recycling electronic waste is environmentally-friendly because it prevents the harmful chemicals in these devices from getting into the atmosphere, seeping through landfills, or entering the waterways. Ways of recycling also include returning, exchanging, or selling your devices. There are various stages in the process of electronics recycling. One of the steps of recycling is giving it to a reliable recycler among many others.

A very popular method of disposing your electronics is to double check the manufacturer’s disposal procedures. Before purchasing your coveted electronic item, you could check if the company has a return policy on taking back unused or redundant electronic items. Some companies give you a rebate, credit, or even cash for your old devices.

Electronics Recycling by Selling Old Devices

Another method of recycling electronic devices is to sell them when you are ready to upgrade. If the device is in working condition then it can be sold online or to a local store that may buy it from you. There are also several websites willing to sell electronics on your behalf for a simple fee.  

If you would rather not sell, consider exchanging. Both the retailers and manufacturers are always looking for ways to save and give back. There are several manufacturers that allow exchange with added benefits or at a discount. Make use of this service they provide and protect the environment.

Types of Electronics Recycling

After the product has been handed over to the recycler, manufacturer, or retailer it is thoroughly inspected. The companies check if the product is in working condition or if it can be reused once refurbished. The item will get completely disassembled and dismantled to determine its usefulness. Once dismantled it is used for a particular purpose that keeps it safe. The electronic device that cannot be reused is then shipped away to a recycling plant. There are different plants for different types of electronics recycling.

At the plant, they inspect the materials again to make sure that items like batteries, toner cartridges, and fluorescent lights do not get on the conveyor belt. Then using a powerful shredder the items are shredded into small chunks. At this stage the recycling is done mainly through separation of the materials. Each plant has its own method of sorting; the most common method is the optical sorting system. Even processes using high-end technology such as eddy currents and magnetic separation is commonly seen. The chunks pass onto a conveyor belt and a laser beam is used to identify the properties of the item.

When initially sorted on the type of materials they are sorted into, plastics, metals, computer chips, etc. In the next step, the metals are further separated into the different types. They are then put up for sale on the global market. Once the materials are sorted and sold the real recycling process begins. Since they are separated into their individual types, they can be high-grade and clean materials. The materials will then be sold according to their grade and quality to manufacturers and producers.

Plastics are sold to countries like China which will make use of it for manufacturing. The plastics used in manufacturing computers have flame-retardant properties which is useful to build new computers and electronics. The metals that get extracted from the recycled products are used in countries like the United States. The rare-earth metals (such as gold) extracted also get used as it’s tougher to extract these metals from the earth than from the recycled products.