E-Waste Recycling Process with Flowchart

With e-waste recycling is an important part of e-waste disposal. We must look at the e-waste recycling process.

You don’t have to be a regular user of technological products to realize that they don’t live forever. So, what happens when they stop working? They are sometimes discarded without being re-used like other waste products.

Changes in technology, planned obsolescence, changes in media and storage types (tapes, CDs, HDs, SSDs, etc.), and wider accessibility through reducing costs have all contributed to an increase in the amount of e-waste generated globally in recent years. E-waste has become the world’s fastest-growing waste stream as the availability and use of electronics grow around the world.

Waste disposal businesses have made it their major objective to recycle as much electronic waste as possible since the adoption of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations in 2007.

It takes a lot of energy and resources to produce new technological devices which consequently leads to the emission of greenhouse gases and climate change. Electronic gadgets are rapidly changing and improving, resulting in e-waste being abandoned. According to the United Nations, the United States alone produces 6.3 million tons of e-waste each year. Consider the quantity of energy and resources squandered, as well as the vast landfills that will be filled for decades if e-waste is not recycled.

What is E-Waste Recycling?

You don’t have to be a regular user of technological products to realize that they don’t live forever. So, what happens when they stop working? They are sometimes discarded without being re-used. Reuse and Recycling are the most important stages in waste management hence the need for e-waste recycling.

Changes in technology, planned obsolescence, changes in media and storage types (tapes, CDs, HDs, SSDs, etc.), and wider accessibility through reducing costs have all contributed to an increase in the amount of e-waste generated globally in recent years. E-waste has become the world’s fastest-growing waste stream as the availability and use of electronics grow around the world.

Due to its potential to lessen environmental dangers and pollution, e-waste recycling is one of the most talked-about concerns in the world today. It can also defend our lives as humans and the lives of other living things on our planet. The reuse and reprocessing of electrical and electronic equipment of any sort that has been abandoned or deemed obsolete are referred to as e-waste recycling.

E-waste recycling is becoming more popular, and it was started to preserve human and environmental health, mostly due to the extensive polluting effects of e-waste. Moreover, millions of electronic devices are used regularly. When they approach the end of their lives, they largely decompose in landfills. Surprisingly, just 12.5% of e-waste is recycled.

Benefits of E-Waste Recycling

The benefits of the e-waste recycling process are obvious. Almost everyone owns an electronic device in today’s environment. Recycling electronic garbage has become a need to preserve energy, resources, and landfill space. Consider the following benefits to better comprehend the positive impact of e-waste recycling.

  • Conserve Natural Resources
  • Protects the Environment
  • Create Jobs
  • Reduces Global Warming and Saves Landfills
  • Makes things more Affordable 
  • Reduces Business Costs
  • Supports Non-Renewable Recycling
  • Conserve both Land and Energy
  • Minimizes Air Pollution

1. Conserve Natural Resources

The conservation of natural resources is one of the benefits of the e-waste recycling process. E-waste recycling aids in the recovery of valuable materials from obsolete or no longer in use electronic products. As a result, natural resources are saved and conserved. According to surveys, 98 percent of electrical device components are recyclable.

Mining metals necessitates a lot of difficulties and work. Aside from mining, the cost of refining metals and converting them to useful forms is also quite significant. The need to manufacture and refine raw metals is reduced as a result of the extraction and reuse of metal from outdated electronic devices.

Wires and other components comprised of aluminum and copper in electronic equipment can be reused several times. Little to no material is wasted by repurposing them in other electronic gadgets. As a result, the requirement to mine, extract and produce additional metal decreases. One ton of circuit boards might yield 40-800 times more gold and 30-40 times more copper than one ton of ore.

2. Protects the Environment

One of the benefits of the e-waste recycling process is the protection of the environment. E-waste recycling helps to keep a variety of hazardous materials out of the environment. E-waste recycling done correctly helps to preserve the environment from dangerous and poisonous compounds that can harm those who rely on natural resources. By safely recycling e-waste, you can avoid environmental concerns such as leaching metals, harmful fumes, and dust from mining and burning garbage.

3. Create Jobs

The e-waste recycling process helps in creating jobs. Professional recyclers, for example, are finding new occupations as a result of e-waste recycling. Only professionals are capable of appropriately dealing with electronic garbage. It takes a keen eye and a lot of product expertise to tell the difference between reusable and non-reusable materials. In the sector of recycling, there are numerous work opportunities.

There are many professionals with professional degrees in the field of electronic trash recycling. More people will recycle gadgets as a result of increased education, and more jobs will be created.

The Environmental Protection Agency has released findings that demonstrate the enormous economic benefits of e-waste recycling. Let me tell you something. This outperforms the REI Study’s findings from earlier in 2016. Recycling activities in the United States generated 757,000 jobs, $6.7 billion in tax revenues, and $36.6 billion in compensation in a single year.

4. Reduces Global Warming and Saves Landfills

Another benefit of the e-waste recycling process is the reduction in global warming and the saving of landfills. Every year, a rising amount of electronic garbage is dumped in landfills. Uncollected e-waste is often disposed of in landfills and incinerators. Putting e-waste in landfills causes a slew of environmental problems. We can reduce the quantity of e-waste piling up at these locations by recycling it.

Landfills provide major environmental risks to all living things, including humans, plants, and animals. When you fail to properly recycle electronic waste from your home or business, it winds up in the hands of informal waste haulers, who dump it in landfills.

The metallic, plastic and poisonous components in this e-waste begin to leak through the landfill’s ground and into local water sources after a period. The bigger the amount of e-waste that is not properly recycled, the greater the need for landfills for disposal.

Two-thirds of waste in landfills is biodegradable, meaning it may break down and return to its original state. These wastes produce damaging gases (methane and CO2), which are greenhouse gases when they break down and decompose contributing to global warming.

Because landfills harm our local environment’s water and soil, initiatives like e-waste recycling that aim to alleviate these environmental concerns are not only useful but also life-saving.

5. Makes things more Affordable

The e-waste recycling process helps in making electronics affordable to people. People often wish to get rid of electrical devices not because they are broken, but because they want to upgrade to the latest technology. Other people who cannot afford to acquire new electronic devices can simply buy their old gadgets if they donate them to charity or sell them at a second-hand store. People who do not have access to such devices will be able to use and own them if e-waste is recycled.

6. Reduces Business Costs

The e-waste recycling process is not only helpful for the environment, but it may also help a company’s bottom line. Most state and territory governments have now made e-waste recycling more attractive by increasing the cost of dumping or outright banning it. There are also some intangible benefits to recycling, such as reduced future costs of non-renewable resources and improved employee morale and retention.

7. Supports Non-Renewable Recycling

The expanding demand for electrical devices and appliances necessitates the mining and processing of a variety of metals and other non-renewable resources. Many materials used to produce cellphones, appliances, and other e-waste, on the other hand, can be reused. Steel, aluminum, copper, and gold are among these resources, as are enormous amounts of plastic that can be recycled into new items.

After you’ve finished with your item, the recycling e-waste process puts these materials back to work, but dumping e-waste in a landfill means additional resources will be dug up to manufacture your next laptop or TV.

8. Conserve both Land and Energy

Primary metals production from mining ores uses a lot of energy and takes up a lot of space. The ecosystem including biodiversity is harmed by digging and drilling holes underground and then abandoning them as a wasteland. You’ll agree with us that land with gaping holes and pits isn’t attractive. Furthermore, when big rains occur, some of these holes merely serve to destabilize the surrounding earth.

Electronic recycling can help global environmentalists save energy and reduce land waste by reducing the need for continued mining. We can’t afford to squander energy, so conserving these biodiversities it is a way of saying “thank you” to Mother Nature for the priceless gift, and it’s one of the benefits of the e-waste recycling process.

9. Minimizes Air Pollution

One of the benefits of the e-waste recycling process is the capacity to reduce the amount of hazardous gas that pollutes the air. You can help to prevent dangerous chemicals from being emitted into the air we need to breathe by properly recycling old and no longer-in-use electrical gadgets rather than burning them directly.

High temperatures on the components cause them to leak hazardous chemicals into the air, which are damaging to living creatures, as you may have noticed from the consequences of e-waste on the environment.

Mining also involves blasting rocks and the release of gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and dust. For example, 1 ton of gold or platinum emits approximately 10000 tons of CO2. Electronic recycling reduces hazardous gas emissions and, as a result, saves the environment from pollution.

How an E-Waste Recycling Plant Operates

How an e-waste recycling plant operates is all about the e-waste recycling process. The e-waste recycling process consists of a five major step process of turning e-waste to become useful again. These steps include

  • Collection
  • Storage
  • Manual Sorting, Dismantling, Shredding
  • Mechanical Separation
  • Recovery

1. Collection

Just like the waste management of other types of waste, the collection of electronic items through recycling bins, collection locations, take-back programs, or on-demand collection services is one of the steps in waste management. In the e-waste recycling process, the collection of the e-waste comes first. After that, the mixed e-waste is sent to specialized electronics recyclers.

At this step of the process, best practice demands that e-waste be divided by kind, which is why many collection sites will have multiple bins or boxes for different things. This is especially critical for e-waste including batteries, which require special handling and can cause significant damage if mixed with other rubbish.

2. Storage

The second step in the e-waste recycling process is storage. While secure storage may not appear to be a priority, it can be quite beneficial. The glass screens of Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TVs and monitors, for example, are heavily contaminated with lead.

Previously, they were recycled into new computer monitors, but as new technology advances and demand for CRT products declines, much of this glass is now merely stored indefinitely.

3. Manual Sorting, Dismantling, and Shredding

Manual sorting, dismantling, and shredding are the third step in the e-waste recycling process. Here, e-waste then passes through a manual sorting stage, in which various things (such as batteries and bulbs) are eliminated for further processing. Some items may also be manually dismantled for components, reuse, or the recovery of valuable materials at this stage.

E-waste is then shredded into little bits, which allows for accurate material sorting, which is an important element of the process. Most electronics are made up of a variety of materials, and breaking them down into pieces as small as a few centimeters allows them to be mechanically separated.

4. Mechanical Separation

The mechanical separation of various materials as the next step in the e-waste recycling process is made up of multiple operations that are carried out one after the other. The two key steps are magnetic separation and water separation.

Magnetic Separation

The shredded e-waste is fed through a massive magnet, which can separate ferrous metals like iron and steel from the rest of the garbage. Furthermore, an eddy current can be employed to separate the nonferrous metals. These materials can subsequently be diverted to smelting plants that specialize in recycling. At this point, other materials such as metal-embedded polymers and circuit boards are separated.

Water Separation

Water is used to separate the components in a solid waste stream that today consists primarily of plastic and glass, further purifying for the separation of distinct polymers as well as hand-sorting visible impurities.

5. Recovery

The last step in the e-waste recycling process is Recovery. The materials are now sorted and ready to be sold or reused. For some materials, such as plastic or steel, this entails transferring to a different recycling stream. Others may be processed on-site and sold alongside useable components that have been sorted early on.

E-Waste Recycling Process Flowchart

E-waste Recycling Flowchart

Fig. The E-waste Recycling Process Flowchart

E-Waste Recycling Process FAQs

What is e-waste and why is it a problem?

E-waste, or electronic garbage, refers to obsolete, unwanted, or defective electrical and electronic equipment. That includes everything from smartphones to refrigerators that have reached the end of their useful lives. Whatever you've decided to get rid of that operates on power.

What to do with electronic waste?

Find a reputable local organization that will recycle the item if there is no way to reuse or return it. Many businesses will accept old electronics.


A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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