Because landfills and incinerators are subject to strict environmental limits, toxic emissions to the atmosphere are practically excluded. It is important to realise, however, that all the substances that are difficult to extract thereby end up in the atmosphere even though they could be reused through recycling. Landfills merely store the waste material and do not process it further.
On the other hand, recycling today allows us to use approximately 80% of materials contained in e-waste. For example, a mobile phone contains 0.0034 grams of gold. Mining this amount of gold would create more than 100 kg of waste, in addition to greater CO2 emissions.
Secondary materials acquired by recycling bring considerable advantages. For example, recycling of iron results in 74% savings of electricity and 90% of primary materials, an 86% reduction in air pollution, 40% savings of water, a 76% reduction in water pollution, a 97% reduction of mining waste, and a 106% reduction of communal waste.
Positive environmental impacts of recycling electrical and electronic equipment were evaluated through unique Life Cycle Assessment studies of discarded television sets and PC monitors as well as of small electrical and electronic equipment. Its methodology and results can be found in the Processors section.