What about the components that have no value?

It is true that e-scrap contains fractions that have no value, or even worse, that can only be recycled at a cost.  This is true for old TV or computer screens (CRT’s), certain types of plastics, the foam insulation in fridges, and some other items.  Such items contain elements and compounds that are not really valuable, or would be too expensive or too difficult to extract.

CRT screens collected at City Waste Management, Accra

If we allow these items to be ignored by recyclers, then there is a risk only the valuable components will be recycled, and the costly items would end up in rivers or in landfills, with all the undesirable results.

It is therefore important to ensure that recycling companies take care of all fractions of e-scrap.  The profit from the recovery of the valuable metals should contribute to the cost of properly dealing with the costly fractions.  Companies who produce or import electric and electronic equipment are these days also very keen to take on their so-called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in this regard.  In European countries, manufacturers of concrete products are often paid to accept CRT screens.  The screens are crushed by them, the metals are removed, and the crushed glass is safely included in the concrete mix.

Screens collected in Europe

In many developed countries, this is ensured by the creation of industry associations, combining the efforts of producer companies, recycling companies, and environmental authorities.