E-Wastes are wastes generated from electronic components. In 2019, global e-waste generation was 53.6 million metric tons that has seen a rise from 2010 figure of 33.8 million metric tons. 17.3% of the total waste was collected and recycled properly.
The United States is the largest generator of e-waste accounting for up to 3 million tons per year and the figure is seeing continuous rise. Since the last two decades, the world has seen immense rise in electronics and that is the biggest reason for e-waste generation.
E-Waste is a wide bracket in which various other wastes can be included. Various parts and components of the electronics have components that can be derived as non-electronics. For example, batteries, computers, refrigerators and similar products have metals, chemicals and gases that come in different waste types.
E-wastes also contain metals of precious nature as well as components that are hazardous in nature. Such components are important to be recycled and disposed of in the right manner.
An E-waste recycling business has very promising growth and it also helps the industry to be more efficient and at the same time is environment friendly.
Here is a detailed writeup on e-waste recycling business and the necessary steps need to be taken to start your own e-waste recycling business.
Requisite Knowledge and Experience:
Starting a business requires lots of knowledge and experience. You need to micromanage things at times and for this you will have to take several key decisions. One wrong decision can land you up in soup.
Thus, knowledge and experience is necessary. Read about the industry as much as possible. Do proper research, talk with people in the industry, do a feasibility analysis report, and if possible, work in the industry to gain experience.
Working in the industry helps you in many ways. It helps you in gaining knowledge and experience about the e-waste sector and how it works. Secondly, you will also be able to build contacts which will help you in building your business.
Many important minute aspects of the sector can only be understood when you have worked from inside. Small things sometimes are taken lightly but can only be appreciated when you tend to experience it.
Identifying the Niche:
E-waste recycling is a broad category. You need to filter down the specific sector you aim to invest in. You can just be collecting e-waste from the primary source and selling it further to the chief recycler.
You can be refurbishing the used product. You can be shredding the e-waste into bits and pieces or you can simply be brokering the e-waste content to other business entity. Lastly, is the pure recycling of e-waste using the mechanical process in a factory.
Choose the niche you feel you are comfortable in based on your budget and resource. You can use your feasibility analysis report or research which can help you in ascertaining the right direction.
After deciding on the niche, you will have to minutely plan out your business and its direction. Planning helps you in taking the right course of action in the right direction. It also helps you in knowing the resource and finance available at your disposal.
What is required to be done and what resources are required can only be finalized when you have a plan and strategy. Some aspects that will shape your planning are:
- The Niche
- Place and area of your business
- Scale of your business
- Target market
- Financial requirements
- Resource and utility requirement
- Return on investment
It is important to plan all these things in advance as it will help you a lot while taking each and every step in the direction of starting your business.
The Legal Aspect of your Business:
E-waste management is a very key sector of recycling and each and every government takes it on serious note. Though the USA lacks a federal law yet at the state level there are regulations that monitor e-waste generation and management.
Though it would not be feasible to comprehensively name each of the laws yet a summary can be drawn.
Firstly, there are laws that prohibit dealings in certain hazardous e-wastes like Cathode Ray Tube. Certain recycling processes cannot take place in general conditions and for managing such wastes, special permissions, license and setup is required.
E-waste recycling plants should follow certain guidelines like waste management, safety of workers, waste generated in treating and recycling e-waste, size of recycling plant, etc. Wastewater treatment is a must under all the laws in force.
Certain regulations directly and indirectly regulate e-waste recycling and management. You need to contact and consult your legal team in order to know about them and obtain license and permission.
Details of Recycling:
One has to know up to what extent an e-waste can be recycled and what is the condition of recycled product and how it can further be sold to make profitable returns. What is the requirement of resource, setup of recycling plant, machines, equipment, manpower, etc.
One has to understand that e-waste is a broad term. There are various components in what constitutes e-waste. What e-waste recycling does is it first breaks or segregates the e-waste components and then classifies it based on the type of component.
For example, a computer electronic waste contains copper, plastic, mercury, glass, metals, etc. All these wastes are first segregated in each category and then are treated accordingly. The process to segregate them is as follows.
Step 1: Collection
E-waste is first collected from different places and sources and then is transported to the required location. First hand cleaning and sorting takes place. Most of the waste is compressed into compact size for easy transportation.
Step 2: Shredding and Sorting
Collected waste is then shredded into small pieces and then is segregated from each other based on certain criteria and type. This can be waste that can be reused with small effort of cleaning and fixing, waste that requires recycling, waste that requires special methods of recycling, and waste that cannot be disposed of in open ground.
Glass, plastic, metals, certain core metals, etc. are further classified and sorted out manually. They are further cleansed and dusted to remove dust and dirt.
Step 3: Magnetic and Manual Separation:
Due to diversity of materials involved, there are separate steps required to segregate components of e-waste. Magnetic separation is one such method where metals are segregated using magnetic energy.
Manual steps are taken to remove plastics, glass, wirings, circuits, wood, etc. plastic waste is collected separately while wastes like rubber, glass, etc. are collected separately. Water separation method is used to separate glass and plastic.
Special method is required to segregate certain materials like lead and other hazardous materials.
Step 4: Materials that can be Domestically Recycled:
After segregating the majority of components from each other, some of the remaining wastes can further be classified. If not then they can be sold to specified recycling plants. The chief components of e-waste like glass, plastic, metals, wire, etc. can be then sold to the market where they can be reused again.
These wastes have separate markets for each category like plastic waste, metal waste, glass waste, etc. Out of these, you can recycle further any of the components you feel you can given the resources you have.
Plastic waste can be recycled and so is glass waste or metal waste like steel or iron. Or you can just sell the segregated components to the designated market for profit.
Setting up of Recycling Plant:
You need to have your recycling plant at the designated location after obtaining the required permission. It needs to be constructed suiting the requirements including keeping up of e-waste, by-products, recycled material, machines, equipment, manpower, wastewater management, etc.
You need certain types of machines for recycling like magnetic conveyor, segregator, compressor, water jet, duster or vacuum cleaner, melting machine, etc.
Setting up an e-waste recycling plant primarily requires space. Either you can own up the space or take it on lease or rent. Secondly, some construction is required along with machines and equipment.
Transport vehicle is also needed to transport recycled products or to bring e-waste from the sources. Wastewater management, manpower expense, operational expenses, miscellaneous expense, etc.
It is wiser to plan all this in advance to get a tentative financial expenditure. You can easily loan the amount required from the bank or you can invite investors in your business venture. If possible, you can also bear all the expenses on your own.
Running a complex business like recycling does require extra care on expenditure as sometimes things go our of hand leading to unwarranted expense damaging your budget. Therefore, one needs to be extra careful in this.
Market and Growth:
You need a market from where you will manage the e-waste while you need a market to further sell the recycled product. Your network in this is important in order to gain profit. Timely delivery of raw material and timely and feasible transportation and sale of recycled products gives profitable returns.
Researching and analyzing the market is important in order to sail through the impediments you face in the market from your competitors and unexpected circumstances.