What is E Waste?

Electronic waste (e-waste) is raw and toxic material that is sometimes discarded improperly. Due to a rapid change in technology, a fast growing problem around the world has developed.

Due to lower environmental standards and working conditions in China and India, e-waste is being sent to these countries for processing. Some states in the US developed policies banning cathode ray tubes (CRT) from landfills. The waste is dismantled and sorted into metals, plastics and circuit boards or scheduled for shredding as a whole. In 2004, the state of California administrated a fee on all new monitors and televisions sold to cover the cost of recycling. The amount of the fee varies and depends on the size of the monitor. That amount was adjusted on July 1, 2005 in order to match the actual cost of recycling.

E-waste is a concern due to the toxicity in electronic products that are sometimes disposed of inappropriately . Toxic substances such as; lead, mercury, cadmium and a number of other substances are the basis for recycling electronics. A typical computer monitor may contain more than 6% lead by weight and up to thirty-eight separate chemical elements are incorporated into most e-waste items. The abundance of discarded electronics and computers is another reason to recycle, or perhaps re-use, electronic waste.

E-waste processing systems have matured in recent years. Part of this evolution has change to e-waste down-cycling processes (eg. conventional recycling) where equipment is reverted to a raw substance. E-waste includes computers, entertainment electronics, mobile phones and other items that have been discarded by their original owners. While there is no generally accepted definition of e-waste, in most cases e-waste consists of expensive and more or less durable products used for data processing, telecommunications or entertainment in private households and businesses that are re-useable.

A typical e-waste recycling plant, as found in some industrialized countries, combines the best enviornment and space for component recovery with increased capacity to process large amounts of e-waste in a cost effective-manner. Material is fed into a hopper, which travels up a conveyor belt and is dropped into the mechanical separator, which is followed by a number of screening and granulating machines. The entire recycling machine is enclosed and employs a dust collection system. The European Union, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have already demanded that sellers and manufacturers of electronics be responsible for recycling 75% of its products.