Electronic waste or electronic scrap is one of the fastest and fastest growing waste streams in the European Union. However, less than 40% of this waste is currently recycled, which offers a major business opportunity of electronic scrap recycling.
The latest report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has revealed that more than 40 million tonnes of e-waste is generated worldwide, and it is estimated that this type of scrap is growing by 16-28% every five years. In this article, ScrapAd tells you what WEEE or electronic waste is and the importance of recycling it.
What is electronic scrap or WEEE?
Electronic scrap, e-waste or WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) are those discarded products that have a battery or plug, i.e. that require electrical current to operate. Within these products we can consider the categories of large household appliances (washing machines, refrigerators...), IT and telecommunications equipment (laptops, mobile phones...), consumer electronics and photovoltaic panels (screens, music chains...) and small household appliances (coffee machines, hoovers...).
In these devices, we can find a large amount of recyclable materials that can be given a new useful life, promoting the benefits of a circular economy. Let's take a look at some examples of these materials:
Electronic products have a good number of their components made of recyclable plastic, such as the outer casings of many of them.
Many household appliances contain large metal parts that are highly recoverable for recycling. But not only that, also under this heading we can contemplate the circuits that contain: gold, silver, copper and other metals of great value whose recovery results in great benefits.
Hard disks, once processed, can be turned into aluminium ingots.
Cadmium, steel, nickel and cobalt can be obtained from batteries for reuse in new batteries.
Why it is important the electronic scrap recycling
Nowadays, electronic devices are increasingly becoming part of our daily lives: computers, tablets, refrigerators, electric toothbrushes, fans... which makes it essential to manage these devices once they have fallen into disuse (either because they have stopped working or because they have become obsolete).
Certain components of these WEEE or electronic waste are highly polluting for the environment, which makes it essential to recycle them. An example is the phosphorus inside a television, which can pollute up to 80,000 litres of water. Other substances such as cadmium, bromine or mercury are also found in some of these appliances, causing very serious damage to our environment and to the people who handle them. It is therefore crucial to give these components a new useful life, instead of throwing them away because of the environmental impact of e-waste.
These are just some of the possibilities offered by the electronic scrap recycling and, for this reason, more and more actors in society are focusing on the importance of recycling this waste, with exponential growth. Not only because of the economic benefits they bring at a business level, but also because they offer great social opportunities for the creation of new job opportunities and for the protection of the environment.
At ScrapAd, the platform for scrap metal trading, we are very conscious and aware of this and its environmental impact, which is why we advocate the proper electronic scrap recycling. Discover our blog where we publish some interesting content about recycling adn scrap, like the differents types of scrap metal that exist.