Electronic recycling helps to recover precious metals by ensuring that toxic and hazardous substance are handled properly thereby minimizing the environmental impact associated with mining. Even though recycling of e-waste pose clear benefits, lack of recycling awareness and regulatory infrastructure have resulted to low recycling rate. The global recycling market was valued at USD 9.84 billion in 2012 and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 23.06% from 2013 to 2019. Implementation of strict recycling regulations, efforts to properly manage electronic waste and technological investments have contributed to the growth of this market.
Increasing consumption of electronic devices, growing government concern and numerous initiatives taken by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and nonprofit organizations are the major drivers for electronic recycling market. Though e-waste represents less than 4% of the global landfill mass, it contains more than 75% of the environmentally hazardous waste. As electronic equipment are made up of numerous special and precious metals, maintaining circular flow helps to achieve the availability demand. Additionally, privacy protection concerns have further fueled the market growth.
Due to cost fluctuations of mined steel, most of the manufacturers adopted closed loop practice. Hence steel was the most recycled material from electronic scrap because steel was heavily used in electronic. Computer was the largest segment among recycled equipment in 2012 and is forecast to maintain its dominance in future. This owes to decrease in average lifecycle of computers because of micro chip development. Additionally, commercial sector were highest contributors to recycling market based on source of equipments. This attributes to infrastructural developments across developing economies.
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Geographically, Europe dominated the e-waste recycling market followed by North America in 2012. The European recycling rate is slightly higher than North America due to efficient approach to recycling guided by two directives; RoHS Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Most of the e-waste from developed countries was imported to developing countries such as India, China and Pakistan due to cheap labor and no mandatory recycling regulations. In addition, the amount of e-waste in South Africa is expected to increase eight times in near future. This is because South Africa is extensively serving as dumping ground for e-waste.