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The Need & Importance for Recycling E-Waste

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by - 2/25/2016 10636 Views

The Value of E-Waste

The Need for Recycling Electronic Scrap:

Today electronic and electrical gadgets are progressively a part of our life. In order to ensure that they have only a minimum impact on environment, end-of-life electronic products must be processed and the metals they contain must be recycled. The total volume of e-waste is increasing globally, but the number of smelters available to process it is very small. In recent years, collected and scrapped electronic products have accounted for the largest increase in material type, primarily in the form of printed circuit boards (PCBs) from mobile phones and computers

The value for electronic scrap is in the growth mode. This ultimately has resulted in the generation of huge quantities of e-waste that need to be managed and processed. The unscientific method of handling this e-waste by way of disposal in landfills, exporting overseas, and combustion in incinerators are prohibited due to legislation designed to prevent environmental pollution. The presence of ferrous, non-ferrous, and precious metals makes electronic scrap recycling economically attractive upfront. For all these reasons, smelting and refining companies such as Boliden Group, Umicore N.V., and Mitsubishi Materials USA Corporation lay emphasis on increasing electronic scrap processing capacity.

Due to the wide possibility & availability of electronic scrap and the rise in the volume of electronic scrap & electronic products globally, and with advancements in technology, the demand for electronic and electrical equipment recycling has risen dramatically. Persistent innovations in electronic and electrical technologies have further shortened the life of electronic and electrical products. This has paved the way for the generation of e-waste or waste from electronic and electrical equipment. E-waste primarily comprises laptops, computers, mobile phones, television sets, and other electrical or electronic household appliances.

The Importance for Recycling Electronic Scrap Globally:

Five regions, namely North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa have been geographically mapped out as the predominant market for electronic scrap recycling. Europe accounted for the largest market share, with 34% of total market in terms of throughout, in 2014. Statistics say that Europe is likely to remain the largest market for electronic scrap recycling in terms of revenue in 2022, primarily due to strong government regulations and huge profits generated through the recovery of precious metals from electronic scrap in the region. Asia Pacific is expected to position second in terms of market share, accounting for around 28% of the global market for electronic scrap recycling in 2022. Government policy impetus, increasing awareness about the hazardous effects on health and the environment, as well as the potential value of resources within e-waste are some key factors driving the market in this region. North America is expected to position third in the global electronic scrap recycling market in 2022. Increasing focus on domestic recycling in the region and reduction in the amount of exporting and hazardous landfilling of e-waste is propelling the growth of the electronic scrap recycling market in North America. The global electronic scrap recycling market was worth US$ 11.03 Bn in 2014 and is expected to reach US$ 34.32 Bn by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 15.7% from 2015 to 2022.

The table given below presents the materials concentration (in grams) in each product unit. From a first view, it is possible to evidence the presence (or not) of critical materials (e.g. antimony, beryllium, cerium, cobalt, dysprosium, europium, gadolinium, gallium, indium, lanthanum, neodymium, palladium, platinum, praseodymium, terbium and yttrium); the same activity can be done for precious metals (e.g. gold, palladium, platinum and silver)

Source : http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032115005808

The United Nations Environmental Programme:

According to the statistics of UN Environment Programme (UNEP), around 20 million to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated every year globally and volumes are rapidly increasing three-folds incomparison to other forms of municipal wastes. This is primarily powered by expanding markets and rapid product innovations such as the switch from analog to digital technologies. The global production of e-waste is increasing rapidly and is expected to pick up pace in coming years. E-waste is considered to be hazardous; therefore it should be managed and processed carefully, according to UNEP.

The presence of various precious & valuable metals such as gold, silver, palladium, tantalum, and gallium makes e-waste attractive for recycling. Thus, most companies in the field are either entering into the electronic recycling business or expanding the recycling capacity at their smelting and refining facilities. For instance in June 2012, Boliden Group started a new electronic recycling facility at the Rönnskär copper smelter. The company has increased the smelter's capacity from 45,000 tons to 120,000 tons per year. The recycling of e-waste for the recovery of various metals is important from the standpoint of saving energy. Moreover, the recycling of e-waste would also help in reducing the burden on mining ores for primary metals. For instance, electronic recycling helps in metals that require significant energy consumption for extraction and are seen in low concentrations in primary ores.

Recycling Electronic Scrap: A Rich Source for Precious Metals

It is a proved fact that, e-waste is a richer source of precious metals than their primary ores. The amount of gold recovered from one ton of e-waste scrap from circuit boards of the computers is greater than that recovered from around 17 tons of gold ores. The recovery of base metals such as copper, lead, and zinc and precious metals such as gold, silver and palladium plays an important role in recycling, e-waste management, sustainability, and resource conservation. Sustainable resource management demands the segregation of hazardous resources from e-waste and the maximum recovery of precious metals. Thus, the recycling of e-waste scrap helps reduce pollution, conserve energy, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth's crust. Due to all these advantages, the demand for electronic scrap recycling market is expected to soar significantly during the forecast period.

On the basis of metals extracted, the global electronic scrap recycling market is segmented into ferrous, non-ferrous and precious metals. In terms of volume, in 2014, ferrous metals were the major contributor in the market and accounted for around 40% of the overall electronic scrap recycling market. However, precious metals segment is expected to expand at a CAGR of 11.2% from 2015 to 2022.


The electronic equipment contributing to the electronic scrap generated globally include office, IT equipment, and handheld devices, large white goods, small household appliances, lighting and electric product and automotive components.  However, small household appliances are expected to expand at a substantial CAGR during the forecast period. Europe is the largest market for electronic scrap recycling, globally. Strong government regulations and huge profits generated through the recovery of precious metals from electronic scrap is expected to lead to a rise in the revenues of the electronic scrap recycling markets in the coming years.

Category : Electronics

Tags : E-Waste Scrap, E-Waste Scrap Management, E-Waste Scrap Price, E-Waste Scrap Disposal, E-Waste Scrap Market, E-Waste Scrap Definition

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About Georgy Abraham

As the bright morning of 28th May dawned in the year 1972, in the fulfillment of time according to the plan & will of Almighty Godbrought me forth into this world and I was brought up & educated in Orissa. My parents provided me with the best of education in an English medium school with high standa .... more info


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