Who will benefit the most from the increasing volume of electrical and electronic scrap worldwide in the future?
This question was among many other burning questions, which were addressed at the recent International Electronics Recycling Congress in Austria.
The forum discussed all aspects related to E-waste recycling, from current market developments and new technological trends to new legal frameworks and specific country reports.
Participating in a roundtable discussion, Stephan Schwarz from ALBA International Recycling explained that some recycling companies have benefited from substandard recycling activities. Read more…
In many cases, E-waste has been shipped to developing countries and dumped, and as a result in this way, large profits were achieved.
However, Schwarz believes that the practise of dumping will decrease. The E-waste market has become very dynamic.
He noted that products have become increasingly powerful and complex, but also smaller and less valuable. The classic recycling strategy of recovering valuables, mostly metals, will no longer work, the ALBA representative said.
Handpicking in developing countries will also no longer produce enough valuable substances.
Instead, new recycling technologies and increasingly automated processes are needed.
However, Schwarz said it is not only important for the right technology, but also for access to sufficient E-waste volumes.
Dynamic E-waste market
According to Schwarz, those who can meet both these requirements have a good chance of being among the winners in the E-waste market.
Also participating in the discussion, Stuart Fleming, CEO of the E-waste recycler EnviroServe, took a different view of things.
Fleming anticipates that the OEM’s will be the winners in the E-waste market.
But only on the condition that they are clever enough to take over E-waste recycling companies so that they can harvest the raw materials at reduced rates.
In this scenario, he suggests that the OEM will invest some of the extra margins they return into research and development on sustainable practices.