Reclaiming and recycling e-waste is a growing challenge and opportunity. Our recent post Urban Mining – a 21st Century Gold Rush! highlights the potential value in reclaiming precious metals from discarded electronics. The cell phone recycling market alone is predicted to grow by 19.1%. This growth will be driven by rapidly increasing replacement rates.
MMMarcelo2008 / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Gold, silver, aluminum, and copper are among the valuable materials which can be reclaimed from electronic products. Metals which are easy to reuse. New electronics manufacturing requires 320 tons of gold and 7,500 tons of silver per year! Given the demand, recycling is both essential and economically potent.
There is still a general lack of awareness of the negative impacts of e-waste on human health and the environment. Cadmium, lead, lithium, barium, mercury, nickel and silver are among the metals which can cause very serious damage if they are not properly treated. Cathode ray tubes in televisions contain significant amounts of lead. LCD screens use mercury. Electronic circuitry uses, among other things, chromium, copper and lead. Batteries can have lead, nickel, cadmium, silver, lithium and other dangerous substances in them. All good reasons for making sure your used electronic items go to experienced recyclers when they reach the end of their useful life. Also good reasons for an industry which is fast maturing in terms of its techniques and regulation.
”The substantial growth in the volume of e-waste has forced regulatory bodies to tighten the rules regarding the handling of hazardous e-waste materials. In order to gain better control over e-waste processing techniques, many new standards have been designed and brought into practice. The safety measures quantify the risk and its aversion in terms of the concentration of toxic chemicals in the environment.” – Global Green and Recycled Mobile Phone Market 2011-2015 Report - TechNavio
Our old mobile phones and electronic goods are valuable. Don’t just throw them away. Phones can be given to charities, they can be sold. If you dump your old computers and printers, they may or may not get recycled. Send them to a recycling company and you know they will.