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How to Deal With PCBs When Recycling Electronics

by: Mar 18,2014 799 Views 0 Comments Posted in Engineering Technical

PCB Printed circuit boards (PCBs)

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are integral components of many electronic devices, typically composed of a dry film laminated onto copper foil with a fiberglass base. Manufacturers usually install them as plug in parts, so when they burn out or become obsolete, you can replace them. Because they contain potentially harmful chemicals and metals, the EPA classifies them as toxic or "special" waste. Here's how to dispose of them safely.


1 Recycle PCBs by finding a local facility that accepts and processes this type of ewaste. Disposal services recycle only a small number of PCBs. Most of them consign these used parts to toxic waste facilities where they store them without any attempt to recover usable metals. It's better if you can find a recycler that smelts the PCBs so they can return the metals to the production cycle, but most of these are located overseas.

2 Recognize that with conventional technology, it may not be possible to recycle some PCBs, especially if they contain mercury. If this is the case, the only alternative is a toxic waste disposal company. See the Resource section for a recycling company that may take your circuit board.

3 Encourage new global technology. Chinese scientists are developing methods for recycling all PCBs, and a new international coalition is emerging to solve the problem of PCB recycling and more efficient and environmentally friendly ways to deal with all electronic waste. You can do this by writing to your legislators expressing your support and concerns. See the Resource section for more information.

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