Electronic waste is notoriously hard to recycle, which is why so many old gadgets end up in toxic e-waste dumps. But anew recycling plant recently opened by Sims Recycling Solutions just outside of Toronto is using a new automated technology to better separate and recycle the parts of old electronics. The multi-million dollar system allows for every single part of the electronics — even the dust created during the breakdown — to be recycled.
The system combines the most advanced existing recycling technologies, like optical sensors and machines for plastics and metal separation, and applies them specifically to electronics. The result is higher and faster recycling rates, while still maintaining the strict environmental and safety standards.
The center first sorts out toxic materials like fluorescent bulbs and batteries, then shreds the old electronics and uses several different automated machines to separate glass, metals, and plastics. Optical scanners that can identify transparency separate glass, and an x-ray machine separates plain glass from glass with lead. Magnets and an eddy machine separate non-ferrous metals. The remaining plastics are sent to another belt, where they are separated and sold as raw material.
The new facility will be able to process 100,000 metric tons of electronic waste each year, providing e-waste recycling solutions to residential consumers, businesses, governments and provincial programs throughout Canada. Sims Recycling Solutions invested in the automated process in anticipation of higher rates of e-waste recycling due to mandates in Canada.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Our future is undoubtedly filled with old and obsolete gadgets, which means that smarter and more efficient technologies for recycling e-waste are desperately needed. The technologies implemented by Sims Recycling Solutions are expensive, but if more facilities invested in them, they could positively change the way electronics are recycled.
Photo credit: Sims Recycling Solutions