Electronic waste (e-waste) is growing at an alarming rate but recyclers and electronic manufacturers stand to benefit hugely. As scrap e-waste volumes build up around the world, the recycling industry can grow exponentially if it can tap into this source of value, says the International Electronics Recycling Congress.
The congress is a group of industry leaders that gathers to discuss all aspects of electronic waste recycling, market potential, and new technological advancements in various countries. The congress concurs that recyclers and the manufacturers of electronic appliances will benefit the most from e-waste if the resource is effectively used.
Better technology needed for e-waste recycling
According to Stephan Schwarz, the CEO of ALBA International Recycling and panelist at the International Electronics Recycling Congress, the current methods of recycling will not be adequate to process the volumes of e-waste. At the moment, most recycling facilities recover valuable metals from waste by hand.
New technologies and automated processes will need to be developed and implemented by recycling facilities if they are to process the growing volume of e-waste. “Those who can meet both these requirements have a good chance of being among the winners in the e-waste market,” says Schwarz.
Other panelists on the congress suggest that the manufacturers of electronic goods stand to benefit. If producers can access recycled components and metals, they will be able to buy these at a reduced rate. This will save money on raw materials and allow manufacturers to repurpose usable components for resale.
Partnerships between recyclers and manufacturers
Steve Skurnac, congress panelist and chief development officer at Sims Recycling Solutions, says that recycling facilities and electronic goods manufacturers should form strategic local partnerships for mutual benefit.
“Ever changing material composition and shrinking product size coupled with higher collection costs means that e-recycling will become much more local in many jurisdictions,” explains Skurnac.
“The future winners will be companies that partner effectively with the entire circular supply chain to optimise collections, efficiently process material and find sustainable homes for the recovered commodities,” he says.
All of the panelists agree that e-waste needs to be looked at as a valuable resource. Recycling facilities need to adapt to the growing volume of e-waste and create a demand for the recycled components. Manufacturers will want to buy these components from recyclers as they will be cheaper and more economical. These sustainable partnerships will reduce the amount of e-waste in landfills and unlock potential value through a circular economy.
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