E-Waste: A Hazardous Treasure
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is one of the most complex and heterogeneous waste streams, containing a wide variety of substances, some hazardous, some valuable and some both.
by Evangelos Gidarakos, Maria Aivalioti*
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is one of the most complex and heterogeneous waste streams, containing a wide variety of substances, some hazardous, some valuable and some both. Its management under the prism of urban mining should be considered as the only way towards sustainability, achieving significant environmental and economic benefits.
However, material recovery from e-waste is a rather challenging task, as several difficulties and hazards usually arise. Major issues in WEEE management are involved in the disassembly process, which is, perhaps, the most basic stage for a proper and efficient recycling. Furthermore, the implementation of a recycling program as a viable option should always include any potential adverse effects on human health (Savvilotidou V. et al., 2015). For instance, in some recycling plants in Sweden, significantly high concentrations of In, Cr, Co, Pb and Hg were measured in the blood and urine of employees that worked in the recycling units compared to the ones that worked in the offices (Julander et al., 2014). In any case, material recovery has been set of highest priority, as (Gidarakos E. and Akcil.A, 2020): high production of electric and electronic products utilizes increasing quantities of materials, the resources of these materials (rare earth and other precious metals) are limited and only available in a few places on earth, the disposal of these precious compounds is ecologically and economically unreasonable, the recovery of these valuable elements is challenging, i.e. intense efforts in research and development are necessary, it is important to consider both the high value parts of e-waste that can be recovered as well as the low value residuals which must be managed in an environmentally sound way.
published: Korea Society of Waste Management, 11|2022
Keywords: Material Recovery, Electronic Waste
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