Electronics recycling can be challenging because discarded electronics devices are sophisticated devices manufactured from varying proportions of glass, metals, and plastics. The process of recycling can vary, depending upon materials being recycled and the technologies employed, but here is a general overview.
Collection and Transportation: Collection and transportation are two of the initial stages of the recycling process, including for e-waste. Recyclers place collection bins or electronics take-back booths in specific locations and transport the collected e-waste from these sites to recycling plants and facilities.
Shredding, Sorting, and Separation: After collection and transportation to recycling facilities, materials in the e-waste stream must be processed and separated into clean commodities that can be used to make new products. Efficient separation of materials is the foundation of electronics recycling. Initial shredding of e-waste stream facilitates sorting and separation of plastics from metals and internal circuitry. So, e-waste items are shredded into pieces as small as 100mm to prepare for further sorting.
A powerful overhead magnet separates iron and steel from the waste stream on the conveyor. The separated steel materials are then prepared for sale as recycled steel. Further mechanical processing separates aluminum, copper and circuit boards from the material stream which now is mostly plastic. Then, a water separation technology is used to separate glass from plastics. Visual inspection and hand sorting improve the quality of extracted materials. The separated streams of aluminum, copper and circuit boards are collected and prepared for sale as recycled commodity materials.
Advanced separation technologies are used in the process. The final step in the separation process locates and extracts any remaining metal remnants from the plastics to further purify the stream.