E-Waste: A Digital Breakdown

Solving the electronic waste challenge

By Enviroserve Zimbabwe

With the increasing exploitation of the natural resources of our planet, the recycling of electronic and/or electric waste (“e-waste”) is important for future generations.

What is e-waste?

E-waste includes any discarded, non-functional or obsolete electronic storage devices including fax machines, mobile (cell) phones, television sets, computer monitors, central processing units, laptop computers, printers, tablets, uninterrupted power supply units, medical and military electronic equipment as well as electric cables and chords.

The dangers of untreated e-waste:

On average, electronic equipment contains over 40 different types of materials including many hazardous ones such as lead, mercury and (airborne) cadmium and beryllium. If the e-waste is not properly processed or is dumped into landfills, toxic materials eventually leach into groundwater systems and/or permeate the air when set alight, possibly resulting in adverse health issues in the local population, affecting the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs among others. The November 2016 fire which occurred in the Pomona dump sites in Harare and the associated toxic after effects is a prime example of this.

DID YOU KNOW

It is estimated that the toxic materials contained in one cell phone can pollute up to 600 000 litres of water if dumped and left to permeate ground water systems.

What can you do?

RECYCLE RECYCLE RECYCLE! Brightly coloured e-waste collection bins are located at selected ZOL and Econet payment points in Harare for smaller type of e-waste (e.g. old cell phones, laptops, power units, tablets etc.) and will shortly be available throughout the country.

For larger items (such as old and obsolete CPUs, printers, monitors etc.),  Enviroserve Zimbabwe accepts delivery of the e-waste to its factory at 184b Mutare Road, Msasa, Harare free of charge or alternatively will organise collection from the client’s premises using its “Green Truck” service for a nominal fee. Don’t worry about your personal information and files, data wiping and destruction services are also available on request.

The recycling process

At the Enviroserve factory in Harare, your e-scrap is segregated and sorted into the various entities of whole units. The HPE plastic and other toxic material and motherboards are placed into a container in jumbo bags and then shipped to Enviroserve’s integrated recycling plant in Dubai for processing.  Since its establishment in 2006, this plant has recycled more than 2 million units of electronic material to date. The scrap metal is generally passed on to Harare’s local recyclers.

The preliminary breaking down process involves shredding the material down into small pieces through a rotating shredder. Harmful substances and recyclable materials are then separated out by means of magnetic separators, sieves, cyclone separators and manual sorting. A fork-sieve then separates the de-dusted material into >100 and <100 fractions and the residual material is again broken down and freed from dust.

During the fine separation stage, the material is reduced to pellets by an impact crusher with rotating hammers. After several circuits, the material to be ground is fully processed and is subsequently separated into metals and non-metals by means of density separating tables.

The plastic generated from e-waste is recycled into items such as poles and car bumpers, the glass is ground down to its original state (sand) for reprocessing, the toxic waste is treated via a process called pyrolysis. It is then diluted down with other compounds to make building materials.

An internationally recognized Enviroserve Green Certificate is available on request. This acknowledges that the identified e-waste has been recycled at an integrated facility that is ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001 certified and part of the UN Global Compact and Carbon Disclosure Project.

The Enviroserve Group continues to make an important contribution to environmental protection through e-waste recycling. For more information please contact us on: Zimbabwe@enviroserve.ae.

Photographs provided by Enviroserve Zimbabwe

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