The problem of recycling electronic devices
2018-09-26
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The danger is in lithium batteries
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The society is aware of the need for recycling; However, this situation does not occur in the case of electronic devices. Any person possesses a large number of electronic devices; However, there is a general lack of knowledge about how to recycle them and the risks involved.

Lithium-ion batteries have been made with the domain in the electronics sector. Thanks to these, the devices can be light, powerful and easy to recharge; but, they also have an unpleasant characteristic, the risk of catching fire.

This phenomenon is known as thermal runaway, whereby lithium ion batteries enter a loop that increases their temperature until they catch fire.

Obviously, if the batteries are crushed, punctured or suffer falls, they can also catch fire. In these cases, a short circuit occurs when the separator breaks between the positive and negative poles of the battery.

Electronic devices with a certain age often have problems when thrown away. As The Washington Post explains, they have them even if they are properly taken to an electronic waste center.

There are no official data on this type of fire; but, it is suspected that batteries are the main problem when it comes to recycling. A recent study of fires that occurred in recycling centers in California (United States) reveals that 40% of fires are caused by lithium-ion batteries.

In short, we are all at fault. On the one hand, people should not throw their electronic devices with battery in such a careless way in the trash. On the other, governments have not yet found an effective way to manage the recycling of these batteries.

Some companies try to get involved with recycling, as in the case of Apple with the Apple GiveBack program. Many of the components of the new iPhone XS have been made with recycled materials, specifically old models. Daisy is the Apple robot in charge of converting materials.

Devices with lithium-ion batteries are usually thin, making it difficult to remove these batteries. The aforementioned medium was present in the recycling of an iPad and ensures that the process can last perfectly 40 minutes, since to get to the battery you must first remove many electronic components.

The problem is that many of the manufacturers do not provide specific instructions on disassembly to recycling companies. This situation also affects the brands themselves, who have already experienced battery fires in their own flesh.

The difficulty is enlarged in even smaller devices, such as AirPods. These contain three batteries and are considered almost impossible to recycle. Products that are so complicated to disassemble also harm recycling, since recycling becomes less profitable.

Brands seem to create devices for a single use and often forget about reuse. The use of lithium-ion batteries has its advantages; however, removable batteries are easier to recycle, although they take up more space, which would clash with current lightweight devices.

In this sense, we just have to wait and see if the manufacturers agree to facilitate the recycling tasks with different designs. The change to removable batteries would be ideal; But, the sector does not seem to be for the work and take a step back in the technological advance, although this is not for the benefit of the environment.
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