What happens to your e-waste after you recycle it?

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The recycling of e-waste is becoming more and more common, but have you ever wondered what happens to your devices once you have dropped them off in the collection bins? You may be surprised that nearly all parts of your old equipment can be recycled and used as new materials.

1. Glass

Firstly, any glass parts that can be simply removed from the product can go straight into the glass recycling chain. This includes the screens from old televisions and computer monitors. Leaded glass from old cathode ray tubes can be smelted down to recover the lead; otherwise, the glass can be used to make new screens.

2. Circuit boards

Circuit boards contain valuable metals such as gold, silver, copper, tin and palladium. Specialised companies can recover these metals through a smelting process, which is both cheaper and more environmentally friendly than mining for new metals. They can be recycled indefinitely without degradation, so being able to recover them from old devices helps keep landfill to a minimum.

3. Hard drives

Hard drives from computers and other devices will be shredded, and the aluminium can then be recovered from them and turned into ingots. This means that any data left on a broken device will not fall into the wrong hands. The aluminium is then used by the car industry to make new products.

4. Batteries

Batteries can also be processed to recover valuable metals, such as lithium, cobalt and cadmium, depending on the type of battery. This is far more environmentally friendly than putting them into landfill, where they can leech toxins into nearby land or water.

5. Other materials

The parts of your devices which cannot be easily dismantled and recycled will then be processed together. They will be shredded into small parts, and then a magnet will be used to separate any iron, steel or other magnetic metals which can be recycled into new materials. The plastic will then be removed from the remaining material by agitation and by machines that can identify the various materials optically. This allows more recyclable metals to be removed from the waste and used in the manufacture of new equipment.

So when your device reaches the end of its life, don't just throw it in the bin. Dispose of it responsibly at an e-waste collection point, and its valuable reclaimable materials could form part of its replacement. Contact e-waste recycling services to learn more. 

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