After I watched the video, I found the thing that most surprised me is the existence of e-waste. In the past, I never think about that disposed of electronics would hurt the environment, because people use computers, phones or faxes every day, and these machines do not harm humans. However, now I know the waste electronic are not only polluting humans but also damaging the ecosystems. According to facts presented by the Electronics Takeback Coalition “Electronic scrap components, such as CPUs, contain potentially harmful components such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, or brominated flame retardants.” Additional components such as mercury and arsenic can also be present. All elements listed can have severe human impact through exposure. If these items aren’t handled correctly, they can cause organ damage, neurological damage, and severe illness not only in the workers that handle them directly but also within the communities of the developing countries where they are shipped. (https://www.rubiconglobal.com/blog-electronic-waste-problem/ ) Therefore, there are many components in electronics that is dangerous. If they are not recycled properly, then they will harm the air, water, and soil, which is called E-waste.
Also, the number of recycling is shocking. There are some E-waste facts people should think about: 1. in the U.S. alone, over 140 million cell phones are thrown into landfills every year. If all the cell phones were recycled, it would save enough energy to power 25,000households for one year. 2. The United States is No. 1 worldwide in terms of e-waste produced annually. Americans throw around 9.4 million tons of electronics every year. 3. Only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled. 5.E-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste. (https://www.rubiconglobal.com/blog-electronic-waste-problem/) These facts show America is facing a big problem on recycling E-waste, and they did not have practical solutions, the number of electronic productions is significant, but the recycled e-waste is relatively small.
So how to recycle the discarding electronic is the major problem. Temple Univesity has a department called Computer Recycling Center (CRC), it gathers surplus computer and electronic equipment from around the university, refurbishes that equipment if possible, redeploys the equipment where appropriate, donates any unwanted usable equipment and, where appropriate, disposes of unusable equipment in a secure manner. (https://its.temple.edu/lab/computer-recycling-center) And the CRC employs the 3 R’s hierarchy when handling material: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Not only a university has an e-waste recycling center, a community always has a recycling center. The amount of e-waste in a community is larger than a university’s, it means the process and classification is more sophisticated. There are several steps of e-waste recycling:
- 1. picking shed. When the e-waste items arrive at the recycling plants, the first step involves sorting all the items manually. Batteries are removed for quality check.
- 2. Disassembly. The e-waste items are taken apart to retrieve all the parts and then categorized into core materials and components. The dismantled items are then separated into various categories into parts that can be re-used or still continue the recycling processes.
- 3.First size reduction process. Items that cannot be dismantled efficiently are shredded together with the other dismantled parts to pieces less than 2 inches in diameter.
- 4. Second size reduction process. The finer e-waste particles are then evenly spread out through an automated shaking process on a conveyor belt. At this stage, any dust is extracted and discarded in a way that does not degrade the environmentally.
- 5. Over-band Magnet. At this step, over-band magnet is used to remove all the magnetic materials including steel and iron from the e-waste debris.
- 6. Non-metallic and metallic components separation. Copper, aluminum, and brass are separated from the debris to only leave behind non-metallic materials. The metals are either sold as raw materials or re-used for fresh manufacture.
- 7. Water Separation. One separated, all the materials retrieved can then be resold as raw materials for re-use. The products sold include plastic, glass, copper, iron, steel, shredded circuit boards, and valuable metal mix.(https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/e-waste-recycling-process.php)
However, in the process of recycling, workers should care about their healthy. As the video plays, there are many Chinese workers who do not do any protective measures, or even do not know the harm of their work. Some parts that are removed will cause damage to workers’ bodies.
In addition to protecting the ecological environment, the purpose of recycling waste is to save energy and reuse resources. There are several components can be reused: plastic, hard driver and batteries, et.c. All the plastic materials retrieved are sent to recyclers who use them to manufacture items such as fence posts, plastic sleepers, plastic trays, vineyard stakes, and equipment holders or insulators among other plastic products. Hard drives are shredded in whole and processed into aluminum ingots for use in automotive industry. Batteries are taken to specialized recyclers where they are hulled to take out plastic. The metals are smelted is specialized conditions to recover nickel, steel, cadmium and cobalt that are re-used for new battery production and fabrication of stainless steel. (https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/e-waste-recycling-process.php)
Also, E-waste recycling creates new jobs for professional recyclers and creates a second market for the recycled materials. The conductor in Temple recycling center is benefit from the E-waste recycling.