Today, we are used to sorting most of our recyclable waste: plastic or cardboard packaging, cans and glassware, paper and newspapers, cardboard, etc. But what about electrical and electronic goods? Collectively, these are referred to as e-waste and they need to be recycled by specialist recovery centers.
What is e-waste recycling?
By definition, waste is what has no more value, or at least no more functional value although it keeps the residual value of the materials within it. In terms of electronic waste, the expression relates to all equipment that runs on electricity. There are several categories: large and small household appliances, IT and telecommunications equipment, electrical and electronic tools, etc. At Potomac eCycle, we don’t handle consumer white goods, but we do recycle computers and electronics.
E-waste recycling in a safe and responsible manner is important if we are to stop dangerous and toxic substances from damaging the environment and while some people will see a broken device as just waste and consign it to the scrapheap, others may see it as a source of income: an object to be repackaged or recycled, from which to extract precious materials.
How to recycle e-waste
Recycling e-waste requires several stages. The first to check to see if there is a hard drive and to destroy it if there is as it may contain data that could be retrieved. After that a decision is made as to whether the item can be refurbished for sale or if it needs to be recycled. Assuming the latter, the item is dismantled, either mechanically or manually, to obtain the constituent parts. They are then sorted into metals for scrap and recoverable precious metals.
After the sorting, the e-waste is shipped to specialist processors for recovery. It is important that these companies are properly accredited as, despite the fact that the export of such waste is prohibited, to avoid contaminating the environment of developing countries, where the management of these materials is often less-controlled, some companies are still trying to ship it, to save a few dollars or out of ignorance.
Potomac eCycle is R2/RIOS certified and adheres to best practices in the management and process of e-waste recycling.