Due to economic and societal reasons, informal activities including open burning, backyard recycling, and landfill are still the prevailing methods used for electronic waste treatment in developing countries. Great efforts have been made, especially in China, to promote formal approaches. A formal recycling process can, however, engender environmental impact and resource consumption, although information is currently limited. To quantitatively assess the environmental impact of a formal printed wiring board (PWB) recycling chain, life cycle assessment (LCA) was applied to the steps from waste liberation through materials refining. Scenario modeling was conducted, and results were compared to conventional primary metals production processes, highlighting the environmental benefit of metal recycling from waste PWBs. Optimizing the collection mode, increasing the precious metals recovery efficiency in the beneficiation stage and decreasing the chemical reagents consumption in the refining stage are proposed as potential improvement strategies to make the recycling chain more environmentally friendly.