RoHS, WEEE initiatives cultivate e-waste recycling market
Regulations including Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) have driven environmental consciousness, and facilitated implementations in addressing the hazardous materials and end-of-life recycling issues concerned with electronic products.
It's also creating a huge recycling market that may create new sourcing opportunities for the electronics supply chain.
Depending on which report you read, the WEEE and RoHS impact is going to be sizable, and might get supply chain managers rethinking how and where they source precious metals.
Globally, the electronics recycling market was valued at $9.84 billion in 2012, and it's forecasted to grow at a compounded annual rate of 23.06 per cent from 2013 to 2019, according to the statement announcing a new report from Research and Markets.
Regionally, the "Global Electronic Recycling (Copper, Steel, Plastic Resins) Market—Forecast & Opportunities, 2019" study shows that Europe dominated the e-waste recycling market followed by North America, primarily because of the WEEE and RoHS initiatives. The European electrical and electronic waste recycling market is expected to reach $2 billion by 2020, noted the study. Eurostat, the European Union's statistics organisation, points out that WEEE is "considered to be one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, growing at 3 per cent to 5 per cent per year."
As an interesting side note, South Africa's e-waste is expected to increase eight times in the near future, the Research and Markets report found, primarily because the country "is extensively serving as dumping ground for e-waste."
So, what are the supply chain implications and re-use issues related to this e-waste recycling boon?
For one, supply chain and design professionals may want to start collaborating more closely with e-waste collectors—they may one day find their way onto the approved vendor list.
Cost fluctuations for raw materials such as steel, copper, zinc, tin, nickel, aluminium, gold, silver, and plastic resins—products typically showing up in global electronic recycling market—put pressure on purchasing budgets. Additionally, engineering departments are being asked more frequently to build re-use criteria into their new products, meaning recycled e-waste will find homes in new products.
From an e-waste collector's point of view, Frost & Sullivan's analysis of Europe's WEEE recycling market found that strict EU legislation, the increasing volume of e-waste, escalating landfill prices, limited landfill capacity, the high cost of mining, and the scarcity of precious metals are causing a ripple effect. While there is heightened demand for the recycling of e-waste, there is also a lack of efficiency in the WEEE material collection process at the source level and slow execution of environmentally-sound recycling processes.
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