Post-Consumer Waste Recycling and Optimal Production
product types. Another important factor hindering the development is the low collection
amounts of e-waste, influencing revenues of the recycling operators. These things together
mean that there is not yet many facilities that could focus on specific type of e-waste
recycling, but most of the processors need to take different products into their facilities. As
volumes for each of the different products are low, automatization levels remain low and
waste treatment remain on a relatively general level.
Fig. 6. Material content of a mobile phone (Nokia, 2011a)
It has been shown that products containing relatively high amounts of precious metals, such
as mobile phones, separate collection and treatment, even including higher costs for
logistics, will bring higher environmental and economic value. For the products containing
about 250 ppm gold and 150 ppm palladium separate collection is always more eco-efficient
that mixing these products with the ones containing smaller amounts of precious metals. An
assumption for the calculation is that collection amounts are big enough, few tonnes rather
than few hundred kilograms. (Huisman, 2003). With the use of proper recycling
technologies, 100 % of the materials in mobile phone can be recycled and recovered as
material or energy, and nothing is wasted. (Nokia, 2011a).
3.4 Getting material to proper recycling
One of the risks in e-waste handling is that the materials end up to be treated in improper
recycling facilities, often in developing countries. These practices, like recovering copper or
precious metals by uncontrolled burning and leaching processes, have been reported to not
only contaminate the surrounding environment but also causing health risk to the people
operating the process.