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The Right Way To Manage E-waste: General Steps In E-recycling

Over the years, office equipment such as computers, printers and projectors made data processing and reporting bearable. Air conditioners and humidifiers also helped many workers. No one can deny the benefits that technological advancements bring. However, managing them is bound to be stressful once they become obsolete.

Obsolete office equipment is among the most notorious forms of e-waste out there. Some companies choose to donate or sell reusable parts. There are also those that dispose the waste on landfill. Such option is both unethical and illegal.

If you're in charge of managing your company's e-waste, you should choose to e-recycle instead. Below are the steps of e-recycling you need to know.

1. Inquiry
No matter how useless your office equipment has become, they may still contain confidential info about your business operations. Thus, you shouldn't just let anyone access them. Before you strike a deal with e-recycling company, make sure you do a background check and get to know their steps. When you're sure about the company, inquire about where you can send your e-waste or how they can collect such.

2. Collection
Collection comes next. As its name suggests, this involves gathering all the e-waste in the plant of the e-recycling company.

3. Inspection
Once the e-waste is compiled, an inspector from the company assesses them. He checks if there are parts that they can recover and return to your company. You should be there when the inspection happens so he can inform you and help you decide right away.

4. Documentation
The e-recycling company will provide documents detailing the parts that they can possibly recover. The documents will also contain information regarding the e-waste processing they'll do. This step is both vital for you and your electronic waste partner because it helps ensure that the e-waste management is in compliance with industrial standards.

5. Processing
When the documentation is done, the most complex and most essential step comes next. Processing starts with data destruction. The company usually requires at least one representative from your company to oversee the process. Thanks to this step, you'll feel secured that your confidential info is handled properly.

The processing involves disassembling the parts manually and mechanically. After all data are destroyed, the step proceeds to either material recovery or total destruction. Material recovery is chosen in case there are parts or materials that can be recovered from the e-waste. These could be glass, plastic and metal.

When there are no materials to be recovered, the processing goes to total destruction. Or after the material recovery, the remaining e-waste is totally destroyed.

6. Reuse and Disposal
When there are recovered parts, your company may choose to reuse it. You can also sell recovered raw materials to manufacturers. As for those that are no longer reusable, the e-recycling company will dispose it.

7. Certification
Once all of the above mentioned steps are covered, the e-recycling company will give a certificate of destruction. You can present this certification to the authorities to prove you're complying with proper e-waste disposal.

E-recycling tends to be complicated. Unlike the typical household waste, you can't just process e-waste on your own. Thankfully, you can count on e-recycling companies for your speedy and efficient e-waste management.

E-recycling Techniques: Pros And Cons

Electronics has dominated our daily lives nowadays. The increase of consumer demands for electronic devices has also led to the increase of production for businesses. Due to the heightened demand and production, the amount of commercial electronic waste, or e-waste, has also increased tremendously. If not managed properly, e-waste can have fatal effects on the environment and all living beings.

To combat the increase in e-waste, countries all over the world had developed techniques for electronic recycling. The recovered metallic materials are reused for other commercial purposes. For non-metallics, they usually end up in a landfill with correct treatment.

Pyrolysis is a chemical decomposition technique that is commonly used in plastic waste. This method involves changing the chemical composition of materials and is completely irreversible. In e-recycling, printed circuit boards are heated up to a specific temperature, usually between 500 and 800 C, in an inert atmosphere. The heat melts down the solder that binds the electronic components to the board. Once pyrolysis is complete, a blackish metal substance is left behind. This substance produces good yield of copper. Other metallic materials such as iron, nickel, calcium, zinc and aluminum could also be recovered from the substance. This method is desired due to the substance that contains a lot of metals. However, the metals recovered still need to undergo processing to make them usable for other purposes.

The hydrometallurgical method is another method that uses chemicals to e-recycle. E-wastes are dissolved into strong acids and alkalis such as aqua regia, sulfuric acid, cyanide solutions and nitric acid. This technique is flexible, energy saving and cost effective. It is widely used by e-recycling service providers. Upon dissolving, metals will eventually come out of the resulting solution. Pure metals are recovered from the solution, making it viable for the market without further processing. For non-metals, they still need to be thermally treated before reusing or dumped in landfills. However, its disadvantage is solely focused on the poisonous and corrosive nature of the resulting solution.

In air classification method, the separation of dispersed solid particles happens depending on the particle size and density. When the particles are suspended in gas, they move in all sorts of directions depending on the force applied. This is where the separation takes place. It is extremely crucial and the machine that executes the separation is complicated. After the separation, there are more processes to make the recovered materials usable.

All of the e-recycling methods mentioned above deal with the chemical composition of the electronic wastes. However, most e-waste recycling service providers do not have the equipment and tools needed. To compensate, they physically disassemble the parts and separate them into categories. Then, they cut the parts into specific sizes. The pieces undergo milling processes that turn them into pulverized PCB powder. The powder goes through eddy current separators that separate the particles depending on their eddy current characteristics. They are also separated depending on their density and particle size. This method is tedious and relies on human intervention, unlike the other techniques.

There are a lot of techniques that can be used to recycle electronic waste. There are more methods that are being tested to make the process faster and more efficient such as biometallurgical separation method and other methods that focuses on non-metallics.