Electronic Scrap Recycling Market | Pin-Point Analysis for Changing Competitive Dynamics

The global electronic scrap recycling market was worth US$ 11.03 Bn in 2014 and is expected to reach US$ 34.32 Bn by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 15.7% from 2015 to 2022. Europe was the largest market for electronic scrap recycling in 2014. Growth in this region is expected to be driven by stringent government regulations and huge profits generated through the recovery of precious metals from electronic scrap.

Owing to the wide availability of electronic scrap and the rising global volume of scrap electronic products, a trend of focus on increasing electronic scrap recycling capacity by smelting and refining companies has been observed in various regions worldwide. The importance of electronic scrap is on the rise in response to changes in consumer patterns and advancements in the technology of electronic devices. This has resulted in the generation of huge quantities of e-waste that need to be managed and processed. The traditional means of handling of this e-waste, including disposal in landfills, exporting overseas, and combustion in incinerators are prohibited due to legislation designed to prevent environmental pollution. Moreover, the presence of ferrous, non-ferrous, and precious metals makes electronic scrap recycling economically attractive. For all these reasons, smelting and refining companies such as Boliden Group and Umicore N.V., Mitsubishi Materials USA Corporation lay emphasis on increasing electronic scrap processing capacity. To this end, in June 2015 Mitsubishi Materials Corporation expanded the Naoshima Smelter and Refinery’s electronic scrap receiving and processing capacity to about 110,000 tons per year (an annual increase of 30,000 tons over current capacity). Likewise in June 2012, Boliden Group increased the electronic scrap recycling capacity from 45,000 to 120,000 tons per year at its Rönnskär smelting facility.

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With advancements in technology, the demand for electronic and electrical equipment has risen dramatically. Persistent innovations on electronic and electrical technologies have further shortened the use-life of electronic and electrical products. This has enhanced the generation of e-waste or waste from electronic and electrical equipment. E-waste primarily comprises laptops, computers, mobile phones, television sets, and other electrical or electronic household appliances.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), around 20 million to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated every year globally and volumes are increasing three-folds faster than other forms of municipal wastes. This is primarily fuelled by expanding markets and rapid product innovations such as the switch from analog to digital technologies. The global production of e-waste is increasing rapidly and is expected to pick up pace in coming years. E-waste is considered to be hazardous; therefore it should be managed and processed carefully. Additionally, the presence of various precious metals such as gold, silver, palladium, tantalum, and gallium makes e-waste attractive for recycling. Thus, most companies in the field are either entering into the electronic recycling business or expanding the recycling capacity at their smelting and refining facilities. For instance in June 2012, Boliden Group started a new electronic recycling facility at the Rönnskär copper smelter. The company has increased the smelter’s capacity from 45,000 tons to 120,000 tons per year. The recycling of e-waste for the recovery of various metals is important from the standpoint of saving energy.

Moreover, the recycling of e-waste would also help in reducing the burden on mining ores for primary metals. For instance, electronic recycling helps in metals that require significant energy consumption for extraction and are seen in low concentrations in primary ores. More precisely, e-waste is a richer source of precious metals than their primary ores. The amount of gold recovered from one ton of e-waste from circuit boards of the computers is greater than that recovered from around 17 tons of gold ores. The recovery of base metals such as copper, lead, and zinc and precious metals such as gold, silver and palladium plays an important role in recycling, e-waste management, sustainability, and resource conservation. Sustainable resource management demands the segregation of hazardous resources from e-waste and the maximum recovery of precious metals. Thus, the recycling of e-waste helps reduce pollution, conserve energy, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth’s crust. Due to all these advantages, the demand for electronic scrap recycling market is expected to soar significantly during the forecast period.

On the basis of metals extracted, the global electronic scrap recycling market is segmented into ferrous, non-ferrous and precious metals. In terms of volume, in 2014, ferrous metals were the major contributor in the market and accounted for around 40% of the overall electronic scrap recycling market. However, precious metals segment is expected to expand at a CAGR of 11.2% from 2015 to 2022.

In terms of electronic scrap generation, the market is segmented into office, IT equipment, and handheld devices, large white goods, small household appliances, lighting and electric product and automotive components. In 2014, large white goods segment accounted for the largest volume share of around 50% of the overall electronic scrap generated, globally. However, small home appliances segment is expected to grow at fastest rate in terms of volume in the electronic scrap generation market during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022.

Geographically, Europe is the largest market for electronic scrap recycling globally and it is expected to maintain its dominant position throughout the forecast period. In 2014, Europe accounted for around 29% of the overall electronic scrap recycling market. However, Asia Pacific is expected to witness fastest growth during the forecast period. Asia Pacific, especially in terms of countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and Singapore, offers several growth opportunities for the electronic scrap recycling market. China, South Korea, and Japan are the key markets in this region. Advancements in technology and rapid industrialization have led to the accretion of electrical and electronic waste in Asia Pacific, leading governments to pass certain regulations pertaining to electronic waste recycling. In addition to government policy impetus, increasing awareness of the hazardous effects on health and the environment, as well as the potential value of resources within e-waste also fueled the electronic scrap recycling market in this region

The global electronic scrap recycling market, in current situation shows the presence of key players including Boliden Group, Umicore N.V., Dowa Holdings Co., Ltd., Ultromex Ltd., LS-Nikko Copper Inc., Glencore Xstrata Plc, Enviro-Hub Holdings Ltd., Outotec Oyj, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Materials USA Corporation, MRP Company, Inc., Aurubis AG, and JX Nippon Mining and Metal Corporation, Electronic Recyclers International, Inc., Sims Metal Management Ltd., Stena Technoworld AB, Tetronics Ltd., and Global Electric Electronic Processing Inc.

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