E-waste a gold mine awaiting exploration and exploitation

Some of the spoilt electronics. [Getty Images]

Electronic waste (e-waste) refers to discarded electronic equipment that is no longer useful, such as computers, mobile phones and television sets.

Swift changes in technology, growth in population and changing consumer habits worldwide are resulting in an escalating demand for electronics. However, the main challenge comes about when electronics have outlived their purpose. Resultantly, most of the electronics are thrown away. If you observe intensely, you will realise that there is a lot of e-waste disposed in the environment.

It is important to note that obsolete or broken electronic equipment often contains hazardous materials or toxic chemicals which can be released into the environment.

In Africa, there are several challenges encountered in e-waste management aggravated by lack of proper awareness on e-waste recycling, inadequate infrastructure and limited resources for recycling, amongst a myriad of several issues.

E-waste recycling refers to the reusing of electronic wastes, which entails recovering of useful materials derived from electronic waste. E-waste recycling is a recommendable process which can reduce environmental pollution by prioritising processing of hazardous substances such as mercury, zinc and lead.

The other advantage of e-waste recycling is that it is a lucrative chance to venture in, as it avails plenty of entrepreneurial opportunities. It generates jobs and secondary market in which recycled products are ready for reselling to consumers.

Can you imagine, an investment that promotes environmental protection and one in which you are assured of ever having raw materials for processing due to the growing rate of e-waste? That is a gold mine awaiting exploration.

As an aspiring entrepreneur, you might wonder which components can be recycled from e-waste. Take note that the following products can be recycled; plated steel parts which can produce zinc, connector plating obtained from computers which can produce gold, hard disks which can be shred and processed thereby obtaining aluminum ingots beneficial for automobiles. Batteries can also be recycled by specialists to obtain steel, nickel, cadmium that can be used in production of new batteries.

One can also obtain silver, copper, gold and other valuable metals from circuit boards. This can be achieved through using machinery that smelts and recovers the required resources. Notably, metal can be recycled to manufacture steel products. Other products that can be recycled include copper, iron and aluminum.

The process for e-waste recycling may be tiring but ultimately rewarding. Some of the steps involved in the recycling process include collection and separation to extraction and selling.

E-waste recycling not only boosts efforts for environmental conservation but it also provides a stable revenue base for many people. It is advisable to conduct thorough research and liaise with industry experts before venturing into e-waste recycling to avoid making grievous mistakes that are regrettable.

Ms Githinji is a public relations officer