People rely on electronics, and that reliance will only grow in the coming years. As the newest gadgets prompt us to dispose of our old ones, we unwittingly become contributors to a major conundrum for our world – electronic litter.
The need to properly recycle electronics is not new, but it has become more of a concern due to the industry’s rapid growth. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL)-developed technology known as E-RECOV is working to combat this problem. It was developed with funding from the Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute.
Using an electrochemical process for removing metals from electronic devices, E-RECOV eliminates the highly energy-intensive and expensive smelting process. Currently, there are no operational smelters that directly process electronic waste in the United States, so the entire recycling effort must be outsourced to other nations. In contrast, the E-RECOV process can be performed domestically, closing the loop for electronics recycling in the United States.