E-Waste Metal Separation System


E-Waste (Electronic Waste)

As E-Waste Metal Recovery Increases, So Will Your Profits with This E-Waste Metal Separation System

With the modern growth of electronic equipment production, as well as the rapid pace of innovations in consumer electronics, electronic scrap waste (e-scrap or e-waste) has become a major problem. E-waste is now the world’s fastest-growing waste stream, and there’s a lot of money thrown out as e-waste, too: nearly $70 billion of precious metals were discarded in 2010.

According to The Guardian, much e-waste in Europe is illegally shipped to developing countries as “used goods” instead of goods for recycling. Old tube-style computer monitors and TVs find their way to landfills, releasing lead that potentially can contaminate ground water supplies. Old cathode ray tubes (CRTs) can contain cadmium and more than eight pounds of lead. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies CRTs as hazardous waste when disposed because they release toxic chemicals into the ground. Mercury, sulphur, cadmium, lead, beryllium oxide, americium, and other hazardous materials recovered from e-scrap must be properly disposed.

A study released by the United Nations predicts that e-waste from mobile phones in India will be 18 times higher in 2020 than in 2007, and e-waste from old computers in South Africa and China will rise 200% to 400% over the same period. Many cell phone retailers in the US have shortened mobile phone upgrade cycles down from 18 months in 2008 to twelve months in 2014, and even as low as six months for T-Mobile’s premium JUMP plan because consumers demand the latest phones as soon as they’re released. And, despite its ban on e-waste imports, China “remains a major dumping ground for developed countries,” according to the UN.

E-waste includes old TVs, toys, portable devices (i.e. calculators, mobile phones, tablets, music devices, digital cameras, pagers and wearables), computers and printers. Precious metals and other valuable materials can be recovered from these electronic goods. Modern electronics can contain over 60 elements. Even though most of e-scrap weight comes from plastics and steel, precious metals give recyclers the most economic value. Printed circuit boards include gold, silver, copper, palladium, platinum, gallium, indium and silicon. It is more economical to recover gold out of e-waste than to mine it from naturally occurring mineral ore. “A single ton of circuit boards creates the same amounts of high-value precious metals as 150 tons of commercial grade ore,” according to entrepreneur Privahini Bradoo.

The following chart shows common metals contained in various electronic waste:


Metal by % Keyboards PCs (Personal Computers) Printed circuit boards Car electronics Recycling Efficiency %
Ag (Silver) 0.05 0.009 0.3 0.12 80
Au (Gold) 0.005 0.001 0.008 0.007 99
Cu (Copper) 13 7 25 20 90
Zn (Zinc) 3 1.2 1.5 1 60
Pd (Palladium) 0.0002 0.0004 60
Al (Aluminum) 18 11 3 80
Ni (Nickel) 0.16 0.2 0.5 0.3 0
Pb (Lead) 0.3 1.5 1 5
Bi (Bismuth) <0.0003 <0.0004 0.17 0.01 6
Fe (Iron) 3 <0.1 5 5 80
Sb (Antimony) 0.3 0.5 0.06 0.08 70

You can have a fast return on investment by selling recovered tin, silver, gold, copper, lead and palladium to smelters. Plastics go to recyclers. Other materials can be reused or recycled for other applications.

This leads to another issue: how are these precious metals and valuable materials recovered from e-scrap? Developing countries have people who work in the “informal sector” who incinerate e-waste on their own, yielding toxic pollution and very low metal recovery rates. This causes health problems of the workers and missed opportunities for higher metal recovery rates. If these problems were solved, recycling industries in developing countries could add more wealth for their people. “By acting now and planning forward many countries can turn an e-challenge into an e-opportunity,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

Worldwide Recycling Equipment Sales, LLC of Moberly, Missouri, has developed an E-Waste Metal Separation System as a solution to these issues. The E-Waste Metal Separation System starts with a shredder. Material gets shredded and then travels to a Tuffman® Trommel Screen via a Tuffman® Incline Conveyor. The trommel screen is important as it establishes a common-sized material to run across the eddy current separator downstream. (If you run materials of various sizes and weights across the eddy current, you won’t get a clean separation.) The Tuffman® trommel allows shredded material less than 1.5″ to run downstream. Material larger than 1.5″ gets put back through the shredder.

E-Waste Metal Separation System by Worldwide Recycling Equipment Sales, LLC

E-Waste Metal Separation System

These fines travel up another incline conveyor to a drum magnet and an Eriez® Eddy Current Separator. The drum magnet removes ferrous metals from the stream. The self-cleaning separator uses a patented heavy duty Kevlar/ceramic surface rotor shell and high-frequency eddy fields for optimum separation of materials.

The remaining shredded e-scrap travels up one final Tuffman® incline conveyor to an Eriez® ProSort II Metal Recovery System. The ProSort II airless metal recovery system requires 75% less energy than an air-driven sorter. This machine operates very well in cold weather conditions and has a low operating cost. The ProSort II has sensor activated paddles that deflect detected metals.

Recover valuable materials and precious metals efficiently with this E-Waste Metal Separation System. The system, depending on custom configuration for your facility, can handle multiple tons per hour.

With leading Silicon Valley corporations working to get “the next billion” people online, more electronics will be produced…and later disposed. Contact us now to get in front of this major trend in e-waste recovery!


(Eriez® is a registered trademark of Eriez Manufacturing Co. Tuffman® is a registered trademark of Worldwide Recycling Equipment Sales, LLC.)