What Is E-Waste Recycling? How Is It Done?
Introduction – E-Waste Recycling in UAE
With technology evolving at unprecedented levels worldwide, the amount of electronic waste generated has increased in the last few years. Today, modern consumers in the UAE regularly upgrade their cellphones, laptops, home appliances, storage (CDs, SSDs, etc.), peripherals, and other equipment types.
Thanks to the efforts of the government, local businesses, and eco-conscious individuals, the UAE provides residents with a highly-efficient e-waste recycling program to minimize littering, promote sustainability, and reduce/reverse environmental degradation.
While most residents are aware of plastic and organic waste recycling, e-waste recycling remains a fairly new concept. This is where Recapp comes in to explain what it is, why it’s important, and how it’s done.
Keep reading to learn more:
What is E-Waste Recycling?
Before we define e-waste recycling, it’s important to understand what e-waste is. Electronic waste refers to any electronic equipment, device, or accessory that has reached the end of its lifecycle. These items typically come under three categories – old, damaged, and unwanted.
As a result, a lot of them may be in working condition or at least salvageable, meaning they can be repaired, refurbished, or reused right away. However, in many cases, electronic items are beyond repair or salvaging, meaning they end up in the trash.
In both scenarios, e-waste recycling increases the life of waste electronics by extracting and reprocessing valuable materials, salvaging working parts, or refurbishing/repairing them for reuse.
The Most Common Types of Electronic Waste in UAE
The following are the most common types of electronic waste generated by households, offices, and other commercial/industrial facilities in the UAE:
- Cellphones (feature phones and smartphones)
- Storage (CDs, DVDs, HDDs, SSDs, flash disks, external drives, etc.)
- Peripherals (printers, keyboards, mice, etc.)
- Gaming consoles
- Home appliances (microwaves, stoves, washing machines, air conditioners, refrigerators, etc.)
Importance of E-Waste Recycling
The core purpose of any type of waste management is to help offset the negative impacts of waste on the environment. Today, there are different government bodies, businesses, and municipalities across the United Arab Emirates spreading awareness about electronic waste. At Recapp, we aim to do the same, even though electronic waste collection isn’t a part of our service (for now).
According to Averda, an average UAE resident produces over 17 kilograms of electronic waste annually. In the last decade, e-waste has increased from 600,000 tons a year to over a million tons in 2022. Most of this waste either ends up in landfills or incinerators - both of which release toxic metals, chemicals, and gases, including:
- Aromatic hydrocarbons
- Sulfides and nitrides
- Cadmium, etc.
Most of these materials leach into the environment to disrupt the food chain by damaging the ecological balance. Moreover, most electronic waste is left to rot in landfills instead of being recycled or refurbished. Manufacturers have to continue mining for virgin resources, such as gold, silver, and palladium for circuit boards.
This process leaves an incredibly high carbon footprint, especially with other activities, such as transportation, refining, and production, involved in the mix.
The E-Waste Recycling Process Explained
The first thing you need to understand about the e-waste recycling process is that it varies according to the type of e-waste. For instance, the recycling process for batteries and computers would be different. Secondly, as mentioned above, recycling can be done in many ways. For instance, people can choose to donate old computers, cellphones, or appliances to services like Dubai Cares.
Others prefer to sell their used devices in good condition through sites like Dubizzle, Kargal, and Second Hand Dubai, to name a few. However, when it comes to items sent to recycling companies like Ecyclex, Take My Junk, and Yes Full Circle, here’s an overview of the general recycling process:
1. Collection from Various Sources
Like most waste recycling processes, e-waste recycling begins with the collection of waste electronics from homes, offices, collection locations, commercial/industrial sites, and even on-demand collection services.
The collected waste is then segregated according to the types of products and transported to recycling plants or centers according to their specialty.
Storage is an important aspect of electronic waste recycling, especially when dealing with potentially hazardous or toxic materials. For instance, televisions and monitors have glass screens that can be broken and result in injuries. Similarly, dumping electronics in landfills, waterways, and illegal sites can lead to lead contamination.
Therefore, most recycling facilities in the UAE have proper storage and logistics to minimize any type of damage.
This is the most important and time-consuming aspect of e-waste recycling. In most cases, it involves dismantling and shredding. However, some companies take care of the sorting and segregation process in-house. For instance, when cellphones come in for processing, they dismantle the devices to remove the batteries, displays, and any other functioning parts.
Next, they shred the waste into smaller pieces to break everything down, so they’re ready for separation.
4. Magnetic and Water Separation
Mechanical separation is where most recycling companies in UAE differ in terms of the process used. The two most common types are magnetic separation and water separation. Larger plants often incorporate both.
Magnetic separation involves the use of magnets to attract metals, such as gold, iron, nickel, aluminum, steel, etc. In contrast, water separation is used to separate plastic, glass, and other materials based on their densities. It also doubles as a cleaning and purification process to remove contaminants.
5. Storage, Distribution, and Sales
Finally, once the materials are separated, they are packaged and stored for resale. Metals are often sold and distributed to electronic manufacturing companies. Similarly, salvaged appliances and equipment are sold to direct consumers or used retailers.
In this post, we shared everything you need to know about e-waste recycling in the UAE. With this information, you can lead a more sustainable life by ensuring you either repurpose your old, damaged, or unwanted electronic items or dispose of them properly. Moreover, you can spread awareness about electronic waste.
RECAPP is one of the most popular waste recycling companies in the country, offering free door-to-door recyclables pick-up services for households and businesses.