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How can we solve e-Waste?

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Rob S Jun 01, 2022
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This question came to me as I've just purchased a new laptop because my old one cannot retain its battery charge anymore. I love my new laptop as well as my old one but I feel sad that my old one now sits on the corner, waiting for its eventual death in my burnable garbage bin. Is there any way to recycle/reuse or suitably dispose of our old devices?
I know that everyone has a drawer or a box full of old phones, devices and hardware that sits around with no place to dispose of them. I believe this affects a lot of people in both direct and indirect ways because there are some extremely toxic chemicals and compounds that can be released if batteries and other reactive materials are not disposed of properly.
There are ways to solve this but none have really taken off and garnered mainstream support. This is important due to the fact that our world will continue to rely on technology but we need a way to sustainably deal with our obsolete or broken devices.
Perspectives or angles to look at:
  • How Crade-to-death is integrated to technology; thus how can we make it cradle-to-cradle
  • How to use a devices death or near death in a positive way for society
  • Classic angle: how to recycle all parts of a device
  • Are our devices really 'dead'? What constitutes a time for replacement?
  • Are we (consumers) the ones polluting or are manufacturers the ones that should be responsible for recycling and reusing our devices?
Creative contributions

"Leasing" technology

jnikola Jun 09, 2022
As you said, everybody owns the technology, but not everyone knows how to dispose of it. There are some companies that recycle technology. They collect gold or platinum plated parts, rare metals, etc. and sell them to manufacturers. However, a regular person will earn nothing if he brings two phones to the recycling company. On the other hand, mass technology collectors such as IT companies, cinemas, gaming playrooms, and telecommunication companies can earn decent money by selling the tech to the recycling companies.
The idea
Therefore, I propose leasing (renting) technology. You pay a certain amount of money to "rent" a laptop, smartphone, earphones, TV or any other technology. You can choose customer-suited packages with everything you need, including unlimited internet, calls, TV packages, etc. Nothing is yours, you just use it. Any time, you can get new offers to choose from, take new devices, upgrade your packages, etc. If you lose a device, you pay a certain fee and get a new one (but also enter their register of "losers" :D). When you want to change a device, you just give it back to the company and sign a contract for a new one. The old phone, laptop or TV goes to a storage, gets refurbished and "rented" by other people, or gets sold to the recycling companies in bulk.
It doesn't solve the existing problem, but prevents it to become even bigger in future.
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Recycle and recover the metals of e-waste

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Jun 10, 2022
A study aimed at recovering metals from e-waste based on the melting temperatures of recyclable metals and centrifugal forces. These metals can be used in the same or different industries. A perforated stainless steel basket was created to dump the chopped e-waste. An induction furnace was used to melt the items in the perforated basket to melt solder, aluminum, and other metals of the e-waste. "Around 95% of all metals was recovered from the e-waste at different rotations (400–700 rpm) and temperatures (100–1,200 °C) in less than a minute. The economic analysis indicated that this process was highly profitable and affordable for the future investment in the field." The study also opened possibilities of extracting other metals from e-waste using the same induction heating and centrifugal forces in an affordable and quick way. Might lead to sustainable use of electronic goods.

[1]Mandadi, GK, Asmatulu, R, Khan, WS, Asmatulu, E. Fast and affordable recycling approach to electronic waste above the melting point using induction heat combined with centrifugal forces. Asia-Pac J Chem Eng. 2020; 15:e2483. https://doi.org/10.1002/apj.2483

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