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The collection of electronic waste happens everywhere in the world. E-waste makes up about 5% of all solid waste from municipal areas. 

However, most end up being buried alongside other wastes. This should not be the case as the collection of e-waste can be useful when channeled appropriately. For example, they could either be repaired or recycled to create other useful electronics. 

Collection of electronic waste 

In the collection of electronic waste, mobile phones, DVD players, game consoles, televisions, stereos, and phone chargers rank among the common electronics in e-waste. The next on the list is the microwaves, refrigerators, lamps, and electric toys. When they are recycled, useful materials such as gold and copper can be recovered and recollected. 

When they are not collected or recycled, e-waste can release harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium into the environment

Export of E-waste 

6 years ago, about 45 million tons of e-waste were generated globally with the United States taking up about 13% of that number. Most of the e-waste that ends up being recycled is usually transferred or rather shipped abroad. 

There, their metals are extracted to be used in creating new products. Almost 75% of recyclable e-waste ends up in China though there are recycling firms in the United States and Europe. 

This is because the Chinese are charged with the responsibility of pulling the e-waste apart and melting them, only to have them sent back to the recycling firms. 

Hazards of E-waste recycling 

Though the collection of electronic waste is a lucrative venture, there are potential health hazards associated with it. How? For example, the workers who work directly in handling these electronic wastes, get exposed to hazardous materials. Processes such as dismantling, processing, and incineration are where the greatest risks lie. Either through inhalation or skin contact, workers could expose themselves to these toxic substances. 

An example of such a toxic substance is mercury, considered a neurotoxin, which can cause damage to your nervous system. Another toxic substance is lead which can cause serious damage to your biological system. 

Furthermore, nearby communities where the recycling process takes place could suffer from air pollution as dioxins are released into the atmosphere. Dioxins are cancer-causing substances. 

Working process of E-waste recycling 

After the collection of electronic waste, plastics, metals, and internal circuitry are individually separated. That is, the electronic material is shredded into pieces

Depending on the electronic material, they are loaded on a conveyor belt with a powerful magnet situated overhead that lifts off metals such as steel, iron, and aluminum from the electronic material. These metals are further processed and sold off. 

Furthermore, water technology is used to separate plastic from glass and more metals are looked for to be picked and recycled. 

Is the collection of electronic waste lucrative? 

Short answer, yes. The collection of electronic waste is a multi-billion dollar industry. In the United States alone, it is valued at $15 billion as of 3 years ago. However, as devices become smaller, lesser precious metals or materials are used, this infers that in years to come, the industry may nosedive.