Electronic Waste Streams
EPA regulations consider solder paste and dross as a hazardous waste unless recycled properly. Read [ 40 CFR 261.2 (c) (3) March 19,1991 where EPA discusses types of “dross” & [ 40 CFR 261.33 & 40 CFR, 261.7.(b)] Recycling shields you from landfill costs, hazardous waste haulers and special reporting to your State and Federal governments. Scrap solids are not considered solid waste or hazardous.
Contaminated scrap or debris may be considered hazardous if ignitable due to solvents or alcohol presence. Many states have adopted RCRA rules have permitted licensed recyclers to take these materials for recyclable purposes. Other states such as Texas, have issued other criteria for determining nature and classification of materials. There are exceptions. If you qualify for CESQG –Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator whereby your plant generates 220#/month, your state may not apply hazardous waste rules to your shipments. Read [40 CFR 261. 1 (c ) (1).
Scrap circuit boards, in general, are best sold locally. Currently, smelters do not recycle this product. From a value perspective, circuit assemblers are better off selling this material to local scrap yards unless the boards have precious metals or high-value components. Board trimmings are virtually of no commercial value.
When selling recyclable metal, segregation and proper labeling is essential to preserving value. Separate by alloy and form-dross and solids. Solder paste should not be mixed with dross or metal. Empty tubes, gloves, rags should not be mixed together. The better you segregate, the higher the return!
Because of the nature of competition, each smelter has their own way of expressing their prices and bids. The purchasing basis can be expressed in basically 3 ways.
- Paying on an as-is basis. You are paid on the net weight received and the assay is generally made from a grab sample. Not the most accurate approach because payment is not based on an actual homogenous melt. Processing charges tend to be higher.
- Payment made on a recovered basis tend to be more accurate but then you have to assume smelter is using most efficient method to reduce dross or oxide to solid metal. The best way to understand and compare, get written terms or bids for each lot of material.
- Payment on a spot basis rarely happens since it takes time to evaluate material and there are stringent conditions applied. Usually, pricing can be lower to take into account the possibility for human error.
Review the last sale with attention to what you were paid per pound based on net weight shipped for each item. Check markets when sold or delivered. Check process charge. Recoveries vary according to the level of sophisticated technology applied and equipment condition.
As a generalization, dross recovers 85-90%. Oxides 50-75% and maybe higher depending on tin count. Solid metal 96-99%. Solder paste 85-90%. Solder wire 95-98% unless wire contains rosin core.
In the final analysis, your results also depend on your relationship with the salesman and the competence of the people you are dealing with. When you meet someone new to you, you can always give them a sample lot to test their results against what you have received elsewhere. Once you evaluate that, you’ve got your vendor.