E-waste, processing and the environment positive and negative

E-waste, processing and the environment positive and negative

This final paper should be between 8 to 10 pages for the content, not counting the title page or the reference page.  Incorporate at least three peer reviewed references from articles listed within the online APUS library.  The peer reviewed references must be cited within the paper.

Paper already started, references to be used also completed

Reclaiming E-waste Processes and Hazards

Abstract*

This paper will describe the variety of processes that can be used in the extraction of electronic waste (e-waste). There are disadvantages and advantages with each separate process, we will discuss the current processes used and their impact on the environment and workers as well as how the EPA monitors the processes. How economical is processing electronics, what percentage of base metals and precious metals can be reclaimed from e-waste.  The true end of life cycle of high quality electronics can be bought back and resold to consumers as refurbished goods, companies reduces the cost of manufacturing, and profits by resale, this in turn keeps that e-waste out of the landfills. We will look at what companies both 3PL and manufacturing industries are taking advantage, and how companies are getting their products from the consumer and back to the manufacturer in order to recycle and reuse products of e-waste. In addition, what can restrictions does the EPA and State and local authorities put in place to keep electronic waste out of the landfills.

 

Introduction*

 

Electronic waste, what is, how does it affect our environment, and how does it affect the industry that produces electronic products bottom line. We will need to first understand cradle to grave as it effects electronic products. Are companies such as Apple taking full advantage of buying back product and refurbishing or extracting all the resources within a product to successfully keep their products out of our landfills. There are many processes from chemical to agricultural strategies using fungi to extract metals from electronics; the later seems to be the most environmentally friendly; however, companies may choose the quickest method rather than the environmentally friendly method. We must also consider environmental health as smaller operation handle e-waste without knowledge of the health hazards that may be present.

 

Background*

 

The quantity of waste from electronics has grown since the early 80’s with the innovation of home computers, tape recorders and later iPod’s and other electronics. The use of circuit boards in just about everything the consumer uses has led to a monstrous amount of e-waste proportions. The world produces and estimated 20-50 million tons of e-waste annually (Herat

 

2013). The United States is the largest producer of e-waste with an estimation of three million tons annually. With new products being produced in force by electronic manufactures the among will only double and triple in amount of waste. There are many problems in the dumping of e-waste in landfills from the obvious it is not biodegradable, and many landfill use an incineration process. Incineration of e-waste is extremely hazardous as it produces toxic gases and they are released into the air, harming both workers and the environment (Herat 2013).

 

Processing E-waste*

 

Currently the most economical way of processing e-waste is not the most environmentally friendly or safest for workers. Even though the machinery involves uses filters to reduce toxic gases out of the air, and enclosed housing that contains chemical leaching solutions.

 

E-waste recyclers first step is the process of reclaiming metals from e-waste is to sort and classify parts by amount of metal and types of metal that are to be reclaimed. Even parts with small amounts of metal have value as many of these parts contain gold, silver, platinum and copper.  These commodities all have great value as they all have to mined and resources for mining these metals are limited as well as getting more scarce as mines can only produce so much before the mine has no more of the resource within it (Kaya 2016).

 

Enrichment is the next process in which critical components are removed to avoid dilution and / or cross contamination of hazardous toxic materials. The w-waste can now be further processed my mechanical processing. Mechanical processing is done generally in a industrial setting to further remove toxic hazardous waste and obtain concentrates of recycled material. The mechanisms used in this process to crush and rip materials further by machines such as industrial shredders, crushers, magnetic, air separators and eddy current (Kaya 2016).

 

A process that can be extremely hazardous to workers and environment called chemical stripping is used next. Chemical stripping is the process of using acids to eat away the non-metals from the metals, the most commonly used acid being cyanide.  There is equipment that is used to reduce the hazards of the cyanide to both workers and environment including cyanide neutralizers and treatment installations (Kaya 2016).

 

The material is then crushed into a fine powder and in order to extract the metals that are imbedded in material; after which the powder is put into a smelter to separate the precious metal from the base metals (Kaya 2016).

 

Hazards to workers and environment*

 

Some companies in non-regulated countries tend to use methods that are quick but are both harmful to the environment as well as having health hazards from the workers. Research any initiatives to ban environmentally regulated countries from buying back the metals from these countries.  What companies are making a cost effective and environmental friendly processes work by expanding their operations to partner companies.

 

The EPA is having to reevaluating how to regulate the reverse logistics industries and how companies can be regulated to protect them from returned product that may have hazardous materials within the casing of products.  How will retailers implement the any new standards that apply to them within their stores.

 

Buy Back Programs*

 

Conclusion*

 

I would hope that companies are taking an environmental approach to e-waste. The incentives are not high enough for vast amount companies to go to zero waste and close the recycling loop on electronics e-waste processing. Part of the problem is non-regulated countries are only stripping the precious metals out of electronics and have not regard to the health of the workers or the environment. Organic methods of stripping away everything and leaving just the precious metals is still being researched; however, it looks like it could be a profitable business to a company willing to invest especially when resources for these starts to disappear.  Companies that are making an effort to be environmental friendly have found ways to reduce their manufacturing costs by refurbishing and reselling product for several cycles such as Apple and Dell, as well as retailers like Best Buy will buy back consumers products in order to add to their profits.  They handling of E-waste if done properly can be a win-win for both the company and the environment.

References

 

Baxter, J., Lyng, K., Askham, C., & Hanssen, O. J. (2016). High-quality collection and disposal  

 

          of WEEE: Environmental  impacts  and resultant issues. Waste Management, 5717-26.     

 

           doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2016.02.005

 

 

 

Ceballos, D. M., & Dong, Z. (2016). The formal electronic recycling industry: Challenges and

 

         opportunities in occupational and environmental health research. Environment

 

         International, 95157-166. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2016.07.010

 

 

 

Fungi Offers Eco-friendly Alternative to Recycling E-Waste. (2016). Retrieved November 27,

 

          2016, from https://www.cemag.us/news/2016/08/fungi-offers-eco-friendly-alternative-

 

          recycling-e-waste

 

 

 

Major Threats From E-Waste: Current Generation And Impacts. (n.d.). Retrieved December 02,

 

          2016, http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/ezine/1037973/Major_Threats_From_E-\  

 

          Waste_Current_Generation_And_Impacts.html

 

 

 

Kaya, M. (2016). Recovery of metals and nonmetals from electronic waste by physical and

 

           chemical recycling processes. Waste Management, 5764-90.

 

           doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2016.08.004

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