You probably know it: a new version of your smartphone is coming out and the urge to get hold of that better version is great. Because: a better camera, more storage and many more new gadgets that you must have. You are not the only one who feels this urge to buy. After all, most smartphones are not designed to last very long. The result? An ever-growing mountain of e-waste polluting our planet.
What is e-waste?
E-waste is the shortened version of 'electronic waste': defective and obsolete electronic devices that are thrown away. Other names for e-waste are 'e-good' or officially 'WEEE': the abbreviation of 'Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment'. E-waste is currently the fastest growing waste stream in the world. In addition, the excessive consumption of smartphones and other electrical devices causes the depletion of natural resources such as minerals and metals. There are also many social and environmental issues involved, such as extremely dangerous working conditions in the gold mines.
The WEEE website tells us that in the Netherlands we throw away about 2.3 kilos of electronic waste per person per year as residual waste. A shame, because if all those devices are returned separately from the residual waste, the raw materials can be reused. The substances contained in e-waste are safely and efficiently removed from the devices through recycling and recycled or stored. Think of iron, copper, plastics and silver and gold.
Where to hand in e-waste?
Many municipalities have a waste point where you can hand in all your waste, including electronic waste, separately. Is a trip to the environmental street not on the schedule for the time being? Then look for one of the 13,000 WeCycle collection points near you to hand in small electronic waste such as old telephones, household appliances or tools. These collection points are often easier to reach, because they are located in various supermarkets and other shops.
What happens to e-waste after return?
E-waste goes to sorting centers from the recycling center, shops and other collection points. There, e-waste is sorted and taken to specialized processors. When individual parts can no longer be reused, the sorted materials end up at the processor in the shredder with a mechanical separation installation. The shredder pulverizes everything into small pieces. Subsequently, metals and non-metals are separated with a magnet. This creates different 'streams' of raw materials. Iron and metal flows become raw materials for cars and bicycles, for example, and non-metal, such as plastic, is used to make roadside posts, benches or planters. So you see: your old appliances do not belong on the rubbish heap. They still contain a lot of value!
Where does NoWa get the silver and gold for its jewellery? You read that in this blog.