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Database Helps E-scrap Recycling

A new online tool could make e-scrap recycling easier.

Recyclers and scrappers can now get breakdowns of the types of recyclable materials in a device, as well as estimates of the quantities.

The Urban Mine Platform displays all available data on products put on the market, stocks, composition and waste flows for electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), vehicles and batteries. Though the data is drawn from European countries, the breakdowns also are applicable to e-scrap recycling in the US.

E-scrap recycling efforts have been slowed in part by the difficulty of extracting rare earth minerals from electronic devices. Recyclers must know which electronics contain such metals and where they are located within those devices.

Developed by the ProSUM consortium (Prospecting Secondary Raw Materials in the Urban Mine and Mining Wastes), Urban Mine Platform breaks down data by types of electronics and includes estimates of the weight of different materials, some currently recoverable and some not, used in them, Resource Recycling wrote about how the tool provides a map of valuable commodities in e-scrap.

This information is crucial for those who are already in the e-scrap market or are looking to join. Recyclers can make better purchasing decisions when they know the average or estimated weight of the precious metals in devices.

Urban Mine Platform took three years to create and used more than 800 source documents from different electronic manufacturers. The database will continue to be updated with future devices to provide users with the best information available.

The database could help make e-scrap recycling more common in the US by providing regulators and recyclers with more information on what can be recycled and how.  Some states have been expanding their e-scrap recycling initiatives to prevent waste from sitting in landfills and keep chemicals from seeping into the ground.

For instance, New York has been improving its e-scrap process in hopes of diverting e-scrap to recyclers and re-users instead of the landfill. Since 2011, it has successfully diverted 520 million pounds of e-scrap from landfills through the New York State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, which holds manufacturers and retailers accountable for properly disposing of their e-waste. New York plans to further boost its efforts to reduce e-waste, Recycling Today reported.

The new Urban Mine Platform e-scrap database could allow states such as New York to optimize the recovery rates of precious metals by recyclers and re-users.

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We started 20 years ago as Web4Minds, a software development firm that provides custom solutions to meet our clients’ needs. One such client came to us four years ago to develop software to manage their scrapyards.

Upon receiving feedback from the client and working with dozens of others, we realized that we had created a product that stood out among the competition, so we brought our solution to the marketplace as Scrapyard Pro. It is now used at recycling centers across the country, by clients ranging from single-location owners to regional operators.