What are the sources of electronic waste

Electronic scrap: scrap values

Worldwide, 40 million tons of old devices end up in the scrap every year: computers, telephones, electric stoves. A poisonous legacy. And a billion dollar business with "secondary raw materials". Four questions about one of the most abundant sources of raw materials in the world

Electronic waste - what is it?

The term includes all decommissioned electrical and electronic devices and their components. For example, refrigerators, electric toothbrushes or washing machine motors; In addition, entertainment electronics from satellite dishes to MP3 players, as well as computers, smartphones, chargers or graphics cards. This does not include, for example, large-scale industrial technology, batteries or night storage devices.

How much electronic waste is there per year?

Estimates assume 40 million tons worldwide, around six kilograms per capita. For Germany, the Federal Association of Secondary Raw Materials and Waste Management (BVSE) estimates the annual amount at over one million tons. According to Greenpeace, only 25 percent of electronic waste is properly collected across the EU; There is no reliable information about the whereabouts of the remaining three quarters. A large part will probably be disposed of illegally.

What can electronic waste be recycled?

Especially the metals. The average refrigerator consists of around half of steel, copper and aluminum. And there is around 40 times more gold in a ton of used cell phones than in a ton of ore from the gold mine. The estimated 83 million old cell phones in Germany's drawers alone contain 1.66 tons of gold worth almost 57 million euros, 15 tons of silver (8.7 million euros), 644 tons of copper (3.6 million euros) and 50 Kilograms of the expensive precious metal palladium (817,000 euros).

Is there an obligation to recycle e-waste?

Yes. The new Directive 2012/19 / EU of the EU Parliament and the European Council also explicitly requires the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment separately from other waste and prohibits its disposal before it has been "properly treated", i.e. prepared for reuse or dismantled for recycling and the pollutants removed. The export of devices that are no longer "fully functional" is prohibited according to the EU directive. It should be implemented in national law by 2014, but a draft law is still pending in Germany. According to the Federal Environment Agency, an estimated 155,000 tonnes of electronic scrap were exported from Germany to Africa and Asia in 2008, which were waste within the meaning of this EU directive. According to estimates by Hamburger Ökopol GmbH, the illegally exported amount of e-waste has increased significantly since then. The German penal code sanctions illegal garbage exports with prison sentences or fines.

Electronic waste: the downside of PC, iPhone & Co.

4 pictures

Kai Löffelbein, the photographer of the electronic waste report, tells in an audio slideshow about his work on the project - and the obstacles that have piled up in front of him