Electronic waste generation, recycling and resource recovery: Technological perspectives and trends

Eldon R. Rene, Manivannan Sethurajan, Vinoth Kumar Ponnusamy, Gopalakrishnan Kumar, Thi Ngoc Bao Dung, Kathirvel Brindhadevi, Arivalagan Pugazhendhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


The growing population and increased disposal of end-of-life (EoL) electrical and electronic products have caused serious concerns to the environment and human health. Electronic waste (e-waste) is a growing problem because the quantity and the rate at which it is generated has increased exponentially in the last 5 years. The rapid changes or upgradation in technologies, IT requirements for working or learning from home during COVID-19, manufacturers releasing new electronic gadgets and devices that serves the consumers comfort and a declension in services has contributed to an increase in the e-waste or waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) generation rates. The current status of e-waste generation, handling procedures and regulatory directives in USA, EU, China, India, Vietnam and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are presented in this review. The recent developments in e-waste recycling methods/recovery of base and precious metals, the advantages and limitations of hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, biohydrometallurgy and pyrolysis are discussed. Considering the impediments in the present technologies, the extraction of valuable resources, i.e. precious metals, from e-waste using suitable biocatalysts shows promising applications. This review also stresses on the research needs to assess the economic effects of involving different unit operations/process industries for resource recovery, reuse and recycling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125664
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author’s thank their respective organizations for providing infrastructural support and laboratory facility to start this research line on resource recovery from e-waste. M. Sethurajan thanks the funding received from the Experienced Water Postdoc Fellowship COFUND Programme ( FP7-PEOPLE-2013-COFUND ) and E.R. Rene thanks IHE Delft for providing support to facilitate networking with partners in SE Asian countries. V.K. Ponnusamy is thankful to the Ministry of Science and Technology Taiwan ( MOST105-2113-M-037-019-MY2 ), Research Center for Environmental Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University ( KMU ), Taiwan, and NSYSU-KMU collaboration research project ( NSYSU-KMU 107-I004 ), Taiwan for research grant supports. The authors would like to thank IGPRED ( www.igpred.com ) for providing insight and expertise on the research topic and for the assistance that greatly improved the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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