Over 40 million tons of electronic devices (e.g., computers, laptops, notebooks, and cell phones) became obsolete in 2020, and this estimate is expected to grow exponentially, mainly due to the decreasing lifespan of electronics. Most of the electronics replaced end up in municipal landfills. Electronic waste (e-waste) has raised concerns because many components in these products are not biodegradable and are toxic. Some of the toxic materials and chemicals include rare earth elements (REEs), which are currently experiencing supply constraints. This study focuses on generated e-wastes from households due to the high amount of these wastes. Technologies for e-waste mining must be tailored to household needs rather than large-scale industrial processes. The use of portable e-waste recovery systems may produce win-win outcomes where industry, households, and regulatory bodies could benefit, and this will incentivize e-waste mining for all stakeholders. This study investigates the sustainability benefits of employing a portable e-waste recycling and REEs recovery, using techno-economic and life cycle assessment methods. The results indicate that the proposed approach in this study mitigates environmental impacts when maleic acid is used as one of the key ingredients in recovering and separating REEs and other metals. It is concluded that when adopted globally, this technology can significantly address the e-waste challenge while improving the availability of REEs for high-tech applications.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.