What happens when an Electronics reaches end-of-life?
Now that we’ve spoken a little bit about the e waste life cycle, let’s get into what we do as an electronics recycler from the perspective of an Electronics discarded at the end of its service life.
First step: Collection
Our role begins with collection. We help to coordinate packing and shipping of the items that will be coming to us in the most efficient way possible to help reduce our carbon footprint. Once the equipment makes it through our doors, we tag and inventory everything in our system.
Second step: Sorting
From there, we sort items into categorized streams to ensure that Standards handle each type of material appropriately. This is a large part of what an electronic recycler does behind the scenes, and it is at this stage that our laptop/Computers /Servers, etc. comes into the picture once discovered by our sorting team.
Third step: Data sanitization
As data-containing devices, we give the laptops special attention to ensure we remove and sanitize all data and storage devices. Now that we have cleared our laptop of any personal data, we have our first opportunity to complete the life cycle.
Fourth step: Test and repair
Items that are relatively new and free of heavy cosmetic or functional damage, we refurbish or repair and reintroduce back into the market whenever possible. We first consider reuse as it is the simplest and often most cost-effective form of recycling. Unfortunately, our laptop is beyond its usable life and is also physically damaged. It is effectively scrap at this point.
Fifth step: De-manufacturing, sorting, processing
Scrap material that is not suitable for reuse, we dismantle into the basic components used to manufacture it. We de-manufactured our electronics by hand and sort it by the separated metals, boards, and plastics originally used to create it. Other items from the same load could be shredded, sheared, or otherwise processed into raw commodities using specialized equipment.
Sixth step: Downstream recycling
Once we have collected enough of our processed raw materials, the next step ensues. We ship them to partner facilities that specialize in each specific commodity we have generated. For example, we send plastics to a plastics recycler who further segregates the materials for granulation. Metal yards take in metals like steel, aluminum, and copper which accumulate them in massive volumes.
The partner facilities then ship the materials to a smelter for refinement. The facilities ultimately turn the materials into ingots for use in future products. Specialized smelters take care of circuit boards that need thermal energy to recover the precious metals found in the circuits and components.