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Huge e-scrap revenue potential for Europe

Europe – If recycling of electronics in Europe were done more effectively, annual revenues could increase up to Euro 3.7 billion, concludes a new study conducted by the UK’s University of Sheffield.

Globally, some 30-50 million tonnes of e-scrap are disposed of each year, says the paper entitled ‘Recycling of WEEEs: an economic assessment of present and future e-waste streams’. The study defines the potential revenues coming from the recovery of valuable materials in electronic waste – such as gold and platinum – in 14 electronic items, including notebooks, monitors, smartphones, hard drives and tablets.

According to the paper, e-scrap worth Euro 2.15 billion in potential revenues was available on the European market in 2014 and this ‘could rise to Euro 3.67 billion by 2020’. The recycling market can be considered one of the key industries for closing the materials loop.

‘However, there is a large proportion of precious and special metals present in WEEEs that is still lost in the recycling process,’ the report stresses. ‘The production of modern electric and electronic equipment requires the use of scarce and expensive resources and so the recovery of these materials represents a significant economic opportunity.’

Professor Lenny Koh from the Sheffield University Management School comments: ‘This research has strong relevance to addressing global issues of materials availability and security, reducing reliance on unused non-renewable materials, especially precious, critical and rare earth materials in manufacturing for sustainability and for consideration for substitution.’

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