e- Waste for short - or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) - is the term used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded appliances using electricity. It includes computers, consumer electronics, fridges etc which have been disposed of by their original users.
Electronic waste, e-waste, e-scrap, or waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) describes discarded electrical or electronic devices. There is a lack of consensus as to whether the term should apply to resale, reuse, and refurbishing industries, or only to product that cannot be used for its intended purpose. Informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries may cause serious health and pollution problems, though these countries are also most likely to reuse and repair electronics.
All electronic scrap items, such as CRTs, may contain contaminants such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, or brominated flame retardants. Even in advanced countries recycling and disposal of e-waste may involve significant risk to workers and communities and great care must be taken to avoid unsafe exposure in recycling operations and leaching of material such as heavy metals from landfills and incinerator ashes.
Any appliance that runs on electricity has the potential to cause damage to the environment if it is not disposed of in a responsible way. Common items of electrical and electronic waste are:
The main environmental concerns are resource depletion and dangerous substances arising from waste from electrical and electronic equipment.
If electrical and electronic products are disposed of in landfill sites, millions of tonnes of materials that could be recovered and reused for new products are being lost. Recovery of these materials would reduce the need to extract more raw materials for the manufacture of new products.
Some electronic equipment and/or its components contain substances that are considered dangerous to the environment and human health if they are disposed of carelessly. Although these dangerous substances are usually only contained in small amounts, they have great potential for causing serious environmental damage.
Disposing of WEEE
Landfill is the disposal of waste material by burying it. Space at landfill sites is becoming scarce. It is not appropriate to dispose of waste from electric and electronic equipment in landfill sites because of the harmful substances that waste from electric and electronic equipment is known to contain.
Incineration is the process of burning materials at high temperatures.
Recycling of Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment
The recycling industry is complex. There are large shredder operators and smaller specialist recyclers. They are backed up by other companies, which provide services such as plastics recycling and refining precious metals. In addition, there may be small repair and refurbishment initiatives. Recycling companies also collect items for export to countries with more advanced recycling systems and those that extract components and materials for recycling.
Shredders process a mixed range of equipment to recover different materials, primarily metals. Large hammermills, also known as fragmentisers, shred a mixed stream of metal-rich materials, including end-of-life vehicles, household appliances and other light iron.