How to Recycle Electronics

Do you know how to recycle electronics?

E-waste continues to be one of the fastest growing categories of trash, and based on current consumption levels, there really is no end in sight. We continue to consume the newest, the latest and greatest gadgets, and add to our stock of toys! No harm in that and it’s fun!

Knowing how to recycle electronics is important in order to ensure that what we are tossing does not end up in a landfill, but rather is recycled back through the system. Regional Recycling takes all types of electronics recycling at all of our depots. Here’s a little look at what happens from there:

The Recycling Process

The process to recycle electronics involves processing to recover raw materials such as metals, glass and plastics.

Electronics are usually separated into the following categories:

Non-Hazardous Materials

Ferrous and non-ferrous materials, including steel, aluminum, copper, wires and cables, other metals (brass, bronze, metal fines), plastics, wood and glass (non-leaded). These will be sold to smelters for the production of raw materials.

Electronic scrap

Cables and wires, printed circuit boards (high, medium and low grade), components, including hard drives, chips and other electronic components.

Substances of Concern

Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT), leaded plasma display glass and other leaded glass, rechargeable batteries, non-rechargeable batteries, including alkaline, lead acid, and coin cell batteries on circuit boards, mercury bearing lamps and switches, components containing polychlorinated biphenyls, ink and toner cartridges.

Not all of our recyclers recycle electronics the same way.  Below are the two processes currently undertaken by our recyclers:

Process 1 to recycle electronics

Lead, zinc, cadmium, tin, germanium, indium and other elements that fume are captured and processed.

Silica, iron, and aluminum remain in a slag which is further converted into value added products for construction/cement industry.

Aluminum is also removed to be sent for further refining

Plastics, wood and other organics are used as fuel providing heat to the furnace and converted to steam. This steam is captured and used to heat process vessels.

Copper and circuit boards are being removed at shredding operations and will be sold to specialty metal refiners

Process 2 to recycle electronics

Display devices, such as TVs and computer monitors, are hand dismantled removing the leaded glass CRTs. Also, plastics, copper and circuit boards are also hand removed in this process and sent to downstream recyclers

Computers, computer mice, keyboards are sent through shredding processes whereby plastics are machine sorted.

Aluminum, copper and steel are sorted through a mix of hand sorting and machine sorting to be sent for further recycling.

Plastics are machine sorted and sent to downstream recyclers for further processors.

Where Do the Recovered Materials Go?

To read more about how to recycle electronics, check out the RETURN-IT website:

All of our Regional Recycling Bottle Depots also take electronics for recycling and will ensure that your e-waste does not end up in landfills! Visit one of our locations near you!