Power tools are a form of e-waste, which is growing international problem. Recycling power tools enables the recovery of various metals and plastics and helps prevent toxic heavy metals from leaching into the environment where they may contaminate aquatic ecosystems.
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E-waste is a growing international problem and is a current waste priority in Australia. Power tools, both rechargeable and plug in varieties, are classified as e-waste. A typical power tool contains a range of materials include iron, steel, aluminium, copper and various plastics - all of which are recyclable. The disposal of power tools to landfill contributes to environmental problems such as the non-sustainable use of resources and the contamination of groundwater cause by leaching from metal components. In particular power tools containing the highly toxic nickel cadmium, used in rechargeable batteries, should not be placed in landfill. These batteries are classified as hazardous waste and should always be removed and recycled.
Australia does not currently have a national e-waste recycling scheme, although there are of commercial e-waste recyclers who will accept power tools and their peripherals such as charges and batteries.
Bosch runs a product take-back systems whereby discarded power tools can be sent back directly to Bosh or returned to dealers free of charge, where they are passed on for recycling.
What Happens When It’s Recycled?
E-waste recyclers disassemble power tools so that recyclable materials can be recovered and sorted. If there are problems identifying and separating materials into specific types, the complete tool is shredded by more conventional methods and only metals are recovered. This can be a problem with older tools where materials have not been coded or identified. The nickel cadmium batteries are sent to an approved recycling facility where the nickel, steel and cadmium are recovered. The recovered metals are made into other products, while the cadmium can be returned to battery manufacturers to create a fully closed loop recycling system.