According to an article by The Guardian, there were more than 1.8 billion mobile phones purchased worldwide in 2013. However, it is projected that only three percent of these devices will be recycled. Whether consumers are opting to just throw away old phones or hold onto them for years before figuring out how to dispose of them, the low recycling rates have a negative impact on the economy and environment. Since each phone contains varying amounts of gold, silver and other materials that could be harvested and reused, each phone that ends up in a landfill or is stowed in a drawer is a waste of precious resources. Researchers are working on new materials for devices and printed circuit boards that will dissolve into sugars when coming into contact with engineered bacteria. The resulting phones would be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
How Are Printed Circuit Boards and Materials Recovered?
When an electronic device is recycled, it is broken down into its simplest parts so that printed circuit boards and valuable metals can be recovered. In the European Union, the Associated European Research and Technology Organizations (AERTOs) project has developed a process that avoids smelting by dismantling phones and crushing and sieving PCBs. Flotation is then used to separate plastics and metals in water so that plastic particles can be easily removed from the more valuable materials like gold and silver. While the process does not attain the same recovery rates as smelting plants, it allows teams to avoid gaseous emissions and reduces the impact on the environment. To learn more about electronic recycling and order your next batch of circuit boards, contact an expert at Advanced Circuits today.