Recovering Copper from E-waste Cables – A Fact Sheet

Recovering Copper from E-waste Cables – A Fact Sheet

SRI Series on Worst Practices No.1.

E-waste includes such items as mobile phones, laptops and printers as well as cables and wiring, and it is these cables and wiring that contain significant quantities of copper (Cu), an economically valuable metal with rising prices. 

Problems arise where safe technologies (such as mechanical cable granulators/shredders) are not applied and cables and might be illegally exported which raises legal as well as ethical questions or end in places with unsafe treatment options. Unsafe processing typically takes place by workers subsisting from recycling using very rudimentary means of copper recovery – typically in the form of uncontrolled open fires. For these workers with few other economic opportunities to earn a living, burning of copper cables and other copper containing fractions of e-waste becomes an important source of income despite the huge cost to their health and the environment. 





E-Waste, Copper


Recycling Initiatives