E-waste is a term used to describe all electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and its parts that have been dumped and never used again by its owner without any intent of recycling or reusing it. In different regions, it is also known as WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), e-scrap or electronic waste. To simplify, e-waste can be grouped into six categories:
- Temperature controlling equipment. Typical equipment are refrigerators, air conditioners.
- Screens, monitors. Typical equipment consists of televisions, monitors.
- Large Equipment. Typical equipment consists of washing machines, refrigerators, large printers.
- Small equipment. Typical equipment consists of small printers, toaster, calculators.
- Small IT equipment & mobile devices. Typical equipment comprises GPS, laptops, mobile phones.
How often do you change your cell phone, laptop or even buy a new TV? In today’s technology world, you will probably upgrade your devices often. Most people wouldn’t have second thoughts indulging in the latest technology, especially the tech-savvies. After all, technology giants will always have a way on manipulating us to be hungry for the next iPhone, Playstation, or Samsung Galaxy device.
While you always strive to satisfy your hunger for the latest technology and electronics, have you ever really wonder where do our old stuffs go? You may think it will be recycled and be put into use again on another device which might be true to some extent. However, the process for electronic waste (e-waste) recycling is much more complicated then normal household recyclables.
All electronics comes from all sizes and what makes it dangerous is that it contains lethal chemicals like mercury, lead, beryllium, cadmium and brominated flame retardants. All these materials are hazardous that have a high risk of polluting the air, contaminating soil and leaching into water sources if handled incorrectly. Hazardous e-waste materials have been proven to bring harm to your health ranging from kidney disease and brain damage to genetic mutations. Read more about 76% of e-waste workers suffer from respiratory ailments, Top Toxic Threats, and E-Waste Harms Human Health.
According to a new United Nations University report, the estimated number of e-waste accumulated in 2014 reached 41.8 million tonnes. For more information, click on the link below: Global E-Waste Volume Hits New Peak in 2014
Lets be honest here, even though you have heard of recycling your old technologies rather than properly bringing it to be recycled, many of you will still leave it in the store room under your staircase or the attic for some dust art later. Do you know that with proper recycling of your WEEE, you can actually obtain something valuable and sometimes gold as well? Yes, you did not read it wrong, it is actually GOLD, as in G-O-L-D!! The gold that you can actually die for, the ones you save in your bank.
Intriguing? Well, gold is actually used in the making of circuit boards in electronics due to its ability to conduct electricity and this makes it an indispensible component in electronics. Read more about how valuable gold is in technology here.
Lets just take an equipment that is a necessity in every household, the printer. By breaking down the printer, you get
- Plastics – 50%
- Metal – 45%
- Cables/wires – 3%
- Circuit boards – 2%
Almost every material found in the printer are recyclable. The main concern here is how to handle hazardous waste, particularly the circuit boards(PCB) or as known as Printed Circuit Boards which compromises various hazardous materials thus it must handled with proper care and cannot be simply thrown in the landfill or else the wastes will be circled back onto our food chain.
PCB (Printed Circuit Board) is a piece of hardware that is basically the bionic heart of an equipment. It acts as the base and provides electrical connections to all mounted components. PCB are present in almost all types of equipment from your household devices to mobile devices, including vehicles. The components used to make the PCB are normally ground to a powder to recover various metals such as tantalum, gold, silver, and copper for resale. Through PCB recycling, it might actually be a profitable business.
While it is true that you can find gold in electronics, do not forget to recycle e-waste that you are not using or has been left out in your backyard.
Also keep in mind that although gold can be found in most electronics, do not actually try to break apart your old piece of technology and extract it by yourself. If you do, the chances are that you might actually render the whole equipment impossible to be recycled and you can say goodbye to what value it has left. The best bet is to take your old electronics to an authorized recycling center or any local retail shops that accepts old goods. An example of a company that accepts old equipment is HP. They are actually committed to help reduce e-waste and will apply accept your old piece of equipment. For more information regarding HP recycling, click here.
If you are still keen on the GOLD, try to extract it from your used toner & cartridges or any other not so complex piece of equipment that you can attempt.
So basically, recycling PCB is synonym to mining in the city. Help the earth to help you. You can also check out our GoGreen campaign at #atozstaygreen.
We also accept your old printers, #tradein to us and get instant rebates toward new printer!