When I was perhaps eleven or twelve years old, my father
(who I’ll leave anonymous due to the questionable decision making reflected in
this story) decided to attempt to melt down some circuit boards in a plastic
bucket in our backyard. He wanted to find a way to separate the more valuable gold from the plastic and
less valuable metals. I remember being ushered
inside by my mother and informed that, no, I may not go outside and join my
Dad, who wore only gloves and a painting mask for protection as thick red smoke
overflowed the bucket and began to creep across our yard, hot on his heels as
he hastily returned to the house. I would later learn that the red smoke invading our suburban
backyard was historically known as "The Red Death” to miners trying to extract noble
metals from the surrounding rock.
No matter what Graham Wollaston, CEO of R3EWaste may claim, this was his (and by extension my own) introduction to the challenges of electronics recycling. How do you separate the valuable components from the garbage? To what extent can these materials be reused? And how can this process be completed in such a way that no nearby children are irreparably harmed?
Now I’m excited to be taking over R3Ewaste’s blog, where I’ll be exploring different aspects of electronics recycling. I’m starting out small, answering my own questions about e-waste - namely the environmental, legal, social, and financial ramifications. My November post examines the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall disaster, and in December I’ll be looking at the e-waste regulations within the United States. I’m happy to take any suggestions you may have for future topics. So if you’ve ever had a question about electronics recycling, be sure to comment, and then check back soon – the blog will be updated twice a month!