Teck Cominco in B.C. plans to place waste televisions and computers into a lead smelter to recover lead, zinc and cadmium.
The company has received approval from the B.C. Ministry of Environment to conduct a large-scale test of its recycling process at the Trail lead smelter that consume up to 3,000 tonnes of electronic waste.
Consumers will pay a surcharge on new TVs, computers, and printers, beginning in mid-2007, to pay for e-waste recycling. The Trail smelter could ultimately take in up to 20,000 tonnes of discarded electronics. Teck Cominco works with a local recycling company, KC Recycling, to collect the waste and pulverize it into bits that are about five centimetres in diameter. Smelter staff then feed the pulverized waste into one of the smelter’s furnaces, which incinerates the plastic, wood and other burnable parts of electronics gear and melts the metals.
Lead will be separated into the plant’s lead smelting process to be re-cast into new lead. The zinc and cadmium will also be separated out. Any copper, iron ore in the steel of casings and frames, trace amounts of silver and gold will find their way into residual material called ferrous granules, which will be used in the production of cement.
Initially most of the material will come from Alberta, where consumers pay an advance recycling fee on electronic goods to pay for diversion from landfill. B.C.’s plan moves in a similar direction.