Global E-Waste Management Market Opportunities

Global E-Waste Processing Market Opportunities
 
Electronic waste or e-waste refers to the unused or discarded electrical or electronic devises or their parts. They are basically used electronics which are destined for reuse, resale or for recycling purpose. These wastes possess a serious threat to the environment as well as have the potential to cause serious health problems if proper regulatory requirements are not met.
 
E-waste is one of the emerging and fast growing waste stream with vivid and complex characteristics. Rapid technological innovation and the drastic shortening of product lifespan are among the major contributing to this growing amount of e-waste. Despite major policies in place by various countries regarding collecting and processing of e-waste in professional treatment facilities, the efforts, the collection and the state of art facilities dedicated solely for this purpose is limited and majority of small nations have not yet developed such a system of e-waste management system. Further adding on to the crisis, some of the world’s e-waste is being shipped to very great distances to smaller and developing countries where crude, inefficient and backyard techniques are being used to extract material components which not only possess a harm to the local natural environment but also the people working in the factories. Global trading of these electronic parts and their substandard recycling has led to environmental catastrophes like the Guiyu in China and Agbogbloshie in Ghana.
 
According to a report published by UNU, the total e-waste generated in 2014 was 41.8 million metric tonnes which is expected to increase up to 50 million metric tonnes in 2018. The e-waste volume in 2014 comprised of lamps, screens, small IT equipment such as mobiles, printers, calculators, etc., small equipment like vacuum cleaners, microwaves, toasters, etc., large equipment like washing machine, clothes dryer, dish washer, etc., and temperature exchange equipment like cooling and freezing equipment.
 
E-Waste Distribution
 
Exhibit: - Type of Collected E-Waste in 2014                                                          Source: UNU Report
 
According to that report, official take back regulation is organized in only a limited number of countries. The official take-back legislation in covers around 4 billion people in China and India, both of them having a very high population. However, the existence of the legislation does not necessarily mean its successful enforcement. Driven by these regulations at least 6.5 Mt of e-waste was reported to be formally treated by national take back programs. Collection outside the official take back system in developed countries, transboundary movement and informal collection systems in developing countries are still unknown.
 
Total E-waste generation 2010-14
Exhibit: - Total E-Waste Generated along the Years                                              Source: UNU Report
 
Most of the e-waste was generated in Asia, followed by Americas, Europe, Africa and Oceania and were 16 Mt, 11.7 Mt, 11.6 Mt, 1.9 Mt and 0.6 Mt respectively with Europe leading the per capita e-waste generation with 15.6 Kg per individual.
 
top 20 e-waste generators
Exhibit: - Top 20 E-Waste Generating Countries                                                    Source: UNU Report
 
If this trend of continual usage and dependence on e-waste continues then it is estimated that by 2022 the total e-waste generated by the global population would be around 53.4 million metric tonnes. Uncontrolled use and lack of proper regulatory checks can even worsen the condition. The below chart depicts the growth in population (Series1) and the growth in the e-waste generated around the world from 2010-11 to 2021-22 of which data from 2015 and onwards are the estimated e-waste generated around the world.
 
Estimated Grwoth of E-Waste
Exhibit: - Growth of E-Waste from 2010-11 to 2021-22 (Values from 2015 onwards are estimated)
 
The official take-back systems cover approximately 15.5% of the total e-waste generated across the world. The majority of them are dumped mainly in the developing and the underdeveloped nations across the world. The major dumping ground for e-wastes are as follows: - 
 
Global E-Waste Dumping Ground
 
Exhibit: - Major Dumping Ground for E-Waste in the World 
 
The e-waste generally has high concentration of heavy metals like lead and mercury and various other toxic chemicals which can cause different kind of diseases. Below is the table showing the effect of various chemicals that can be derived from e-waste and their effect on the human body.
 
E-Waste Toxic Component and their Damage to Health
 
Exhibit: - E-Waste Toxic Component and their Damage to Health       
 
E-Waste although contains hazardous metals yet it also contains valuable and scare metals like gold, silver, platinum etc. The hazardous materials are generally heavy metals like mercury, lead and chemicals like CFCs. Nearly 60 elements from the periodic table can be directly found in e-wastes, although their recovery is not economical. E-Waste is also known as Urban Mine that could provide a great amount of secondary resources to remanufacture, refurbishment and recycling.
 
It is estimated that €48,000,000,000 worth of useful materials could have been extracted, according to UNU. The detailed classification and estimated value generation of each of the extracted components from e-wastes are mentioned below.
 
Composition of E-waste
Exhibit: - Composition of E-Waste with estimated Value Generation (2014)     Source: UNU Report
 
The total value of the useful materials was estimated to be around €39,780 million. It was seen that only 65.12% of the total e-waste generated was worth recycling in order to arrive to this value. If similar trend continues, provided the prices of the metals are nearly same without much fluctuation, then it can be estimated that in 2021 the total value of the metals extracted from this e-waste would approximately amount to €50,900 million.
 
There are a lot of companies which base their business models on managing technology collection, refurbishment, recycling or remarketing and have existed for years. For example, eBay has managed a marketplace for collecting and redirecting up to $100 billion in hardware annually for at least a half-dozen years. The value of the secondary IT market is estimated at more than $300 billion.
 
Several factors have converged to stoke more interest in services for disposing of IT hardware at the end of its life, redistributing excess electronics inventory or collecting gadgets. Among them: the pace of innovation surrounding mobile technology, an OEM push to collect and reuse rare earth materials, the rise of formal corporate sustainability programs, and the shift among many big companies away from massive on-premises data centers to IT infrastructure and applications delivered by cloud service providers.
 
While all the big high-tech and electronics companies have been reducing the toxicity of their products — reducing or eliminating lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous materials — the other side effect of letting those assets go is that many companies are missing out on the chance to extract materials that still could have significant value. The two major labels to check if the company is managing its recycling and disassembly process responsibly are R2 Solutions, developed by a multi-stakeholder group in a process that was partially facilitated and funded by the EPA; and the e-Stewards certification, used by more than 50 major companies to guide disposal practices, including Wells Fargo Bank, Alcoa, Bank of America, Boeing, LG, Samsung and Bloomberg.
 

Here is a list of eight companies worth some attention who are unique in their own way of operation and are doing great:

1. Apto Solutions
Apto Solutions started in 2001, it is a R2-certified company which was termed as a "Visionary" on research firm Gartner's December "Magic Quadrant" report for IT asset disposition and disposal. It claims to help increase the recovery value of equipment by 50 to 80 percent. It is also a Microsoft-certified refurbisher.
 
2. CloudBlue Technologies
Cloubblue Technologies had a clientele base of nearly a 1,000 customers before being acquired by Ingram Micro in October, 2013. It is a R2- and e-Stewards-certified service provider and operates in more than 40 locations worldwide and serves around 140 countries.
 
3. Dataserv
Dataserv is a R2 and e-Stewards certified company and has been around for more than 30 years. It owns and operates 16 facilities and has the capability of serving more than 70 countries world- wide.
 
4. Arrow Value Recovery
The company manages 15 processing facilities in eight countries. It was the first company to move to earn e-Stewards global status for its operations from Basel Action Network.
 
5. ITRenew
ITRenew is located in Silicon Valley, Calif. One of the major differentiating factors for this company is its proprietary data sanitization software which is used to clear confidential data from hardware that it is managing. Its specialty is high-end enterprise technology found in data centers.
 
6. Recommerce Solutions
Recommerce Solutions was founded in 2009 and it is a provider of electronics remarketing and reconditioning services. It runs eight processing facilities majorly in Europe (France, Spain and Poland). Its customers are mainly telecommunications carriers, distributors, manufacturers and e-merchants.
 
7. REfficient
REfficient is a Canadian startup which uses an online marketplace platform to help telecommunications companies so as to harvest value from their surplus inventory. Its long-term vision it to divert 1 billion pounds of product from global landfills. In November 2013, it also added a service to cover mobile phones and tablet collection.
 
8. Sims Recycling Solutions
Sims was named as a leader for IT asset disposition in Gartner's December 2013 report. It has multiple facilities that have been certified to e-Stewards standards and runs 42 sites around the world.

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