Due to the lack of information (why it is important to treat the device correctly when it becomes unusable, or what this even means and where the collectors for this type of waste equipment are), this waste quite often ends up in mixed municipal waste or in illegal landfills. Disposing of this type of waste in the wrong place can cause soil pollution with toxic substances that harm the environment, people and animals, and on the other hand, we lose the valuable raw materials inside the equipment forever.
E-devices and batteries contain dangerous substances in their structure that poison the groundwater and cause irreversible damage to the organs of living beings, some of which are even carcinogenic. At the same time, these substances are very valuable raw materials and are difficult to obtain in nature, as they are in limited quantities.
Their composition strongly depends on the type of device, manufacturer, model, date of manufacture and age of the waste. Appliances consist of various elements and composites: metals, plastics, ceramics, critical raw materials, permanent magnets, etc.
Some devices also contain cooling gases (e.g. refrigerators and freezers), which, if handled incorrectly, have an extremely negative effect on climate conditions, as they cause the decomposition of ozone - for comparison: the gas released from one waste refrigerator into the atmosphere can cause the same damage to the atmosphere, like a car that travels 20,000 km.
There are 50-60 elements in complex devices.
The composition of e-waste is also influenced by socio-economic conditions, availability of the reuse market, recycling infrastructure, waste separation programs and regulatory enforcement.
The mobile phone contains copper, tin, lithium, cobalt, indium, antimony and precious metals such as gold, silver, palladium.
The circuits found in most electronic equipment can contain arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and other toxic chemicals.
Outdated refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners contain chlorofluorocarbons, which deplete ozone.
Barium, cadmium, copper, lead, zinc are found in shot televisions and computer monitors with a cathode ray tube.
Small household appliances contain heavy metals such as cadmium, cobalt, nickel, lead, antimony, etc. In addition to heavy metals, they also contain other dangerous substances, flame retardants, organic pollutants, toner powder, liquid crystals.
CRITICAL RAW MATERIALS or RARE EARTHS
Critical raw materials are special raw materials because they have unique properties and are therefore very important for many technical applications. This means that, for example, smartphones could not be manufactured without them.
It is difficult to replace them with other materials, and there are great risks in their supply (obtaining new ore or from recycling).
Rare earths are not so rare, they got their name because they are obtained using a technologically difficult process, which is also very harmful to the environment.
Permanent magnets are made from critical raw materials or of rare earths. They are found in parts of products such as: speakers, e-cars, laptops, smartphones, wind farms, flat screen TVs, dishwashers, etc.
FINDINGS OF RAW MATERIALS
We obtain raw materials for the production of appliances from practically all corners of the world. 90% of all rare earths are obtained from outside Europe, mostly from China.
It is very important to capture as many of these valuable raw materials as possible by recycling the appliances that contain them. This is also called the so-called urban mining.
So it's a process where we turn waste back into mineral resources that can be used again.
We have a lot of untapped potential in waste, but many products are not designed in a recycling-friendly way, they are difficult to disassemble and extract raw materials from, and waste electronics are often completely destroyed, so manufacturers still have a lot of work to do here.