E-waste (electronic and electrical waste) recycling and reuse (R&R) services include a wide plethora of business types, such as collectors, de-manufacturers, material processors, asset managers, recyclers and refurbishers. Companies involved in the e-waste R&R industry purchase, refurbish, recycle and sell used (working or non-working), obsolete or surplus electronic and electrical (E&E) items – including everything from computers and cell phones to refrigerators and microwaves, as well as E&E components and parts – including CRT tubes, plastics and precious metals).
The e-waste R&R services industry is complex and sometimes could even be referred to as elusive. A simple route for an electronic item on its way to be recycled may entail collection from a garbage collector, triage by a dismantling company and then final processing by an end processor, such as a smelter or refiner. More complex routes may be more difficult to track and E&E items may find themselves undocumented in storage somewhere, overseas illegally or even in landfills. It is not uncommon for an e-waste collector, or even dismantler, to have little or no knowledge regarding the destination of its products. This situation is changing, however, as the regulatory framework for e-waste R&R services becomes more established – at least in some regions –and as the market continues to evolve and grow.
In 2010 the e-waste R&R services market value totaled close to $6.8 billion, up from $6.2 billion in 2009. Industry growth is expected to continue on its uphill path at least through the next decade, with collection services alone more than tripling by 2020. In 2010, China and India (out of the top ten country pool) are estimated to retain the largest market shares, in terms of value, with approximate shares of 23.7% and 21.6% respectively.
Growth in the e-waste R&R services industry is being spurred by the ever-increasing amounts of e-waste being created around the world, as purchases of electronic products are on the rise – in some regions dramatically, and as old E&E items become obsolete at an accelerated rate. Another driving factor in e-waste market growth is the growing recognition of valuable substances, such as lead, copper and gold, found in some e-waste components. These resources may be reclaimed at a profit and subsequently reused, which makes a lot more sense than simply throwing them away.
Instances of corruption and “backyard recycling” may be somewhat exaggerated by the media, with both good and bad consequences. Pictures depicting hazardous working conditions, such as those of African children breathing fumes from burning copper wire, have helped to incite an increase in e-waste regulations and enforcement and have spurred the persistence of environmental watchdogs, such as the Basel Action Network and Greenpeace. Due to the persistence of groups such as these, the e-waste R&R services market is being upheld to a higher standard, although this increased scrutiny has also hindered growth for many involved in the industry.
E-Waste Recycling and Reuse Services Worldwide contains comprehensive historical data (2006-2010) and forecast data (2011-2020). This report identifies key trends and factors (such as the regulatory scene, new technologies, employment opportunities and economic drivers and challenges), which affect the size and direction of e-waste R&R market growth around the world. Profiles of more than a dozen major – or simply interesting – companies involved in the e-waste recycling and reuse industry are also included.