E-Waste Management

<p style="text-align: justify;">E-waste contains unique and precious metals, including silver, gold, palladium, platinum, indium, and gallium. These scarce elements are widely used in producing consumer electronics and IT and communication devices.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Due to the scarcity of these metals, their products' prices are also high. This has increased the need to reuse, refurbish, and recycle devices made from metals. Thus, these issues indeed force manufacturers of electronic devices to look for raw materials from recycled e-waste. This also benefits nations in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helps reduce global warming hazards.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">E-Waste Management Market Statistics: 2028</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Ever-increasing demand and scarcity of rare metals have been leading to a rapid rise in prices of these metals. Such metals need to be recovered from e-waste for reuse in another production. For instance, from the e-waste generated by one million mobile phones, around 250 kg of silver, 24 kg of gold, and 9 tons of copper can be recovered.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The global e-waste management market size was valued at $50 billion ($49,880 million) in 2020 and is projected to reach $143 billion ($143,870 million) by 2028, registering a CAGR of 14.3% from 2021 to 2028. This also benefits manufacturers to produce electronic devices with lower cost and gain cost advantages over competitors.</span></p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">COVID Impact Analysis on E-Waste Management Market</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Post-COVID-19, the size of the e-waste management market is estimated to grow from 49,880 million in 2020 and is projected to reach $143,870 million by 2028, at a CAGR of 14.3%. The current estimation of 2028 is projected to be higher than pre-COVID-19 estimates.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">In terms of economic impact, the market has experienced a growth trend, adoption of work-from-home policies has led to increased demand for mobile computing devices, which has reduced the usage of stationary desktops and devices, thus, to reduce the operational cost, enterprises have been focusing on recycling these systems, creating an immense opportunity for the overall market growth.</span></p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Current Status</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The ongoing sale of electronic products, especially in emerging countries, would provide a lucrative environment for e-waste management in the coming years. Moreover, rapid technology advancements and constant innovations in the product are enabling the electronic industry players to launch new products every day, decreasing the life of all white goods.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">In addition, with the increase in disposable income, customers can afford premium-priced electronic devices, which drives the demand for these devices.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The ever-increasing demand and scarcity of rare metals have been leading to a rapid rise in the prices of these metals. Such metals need to be recovered from e-waste for reuse in another production.&nbsp;</span></p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Conclusion</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The rise in sales of electronic and electrical devices and the hesitance to repair defective devices increase the volume of e-waste each year.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Users often refrain from repairing defective or obsolete products, as in some cases, the repair cost exceeds the price of a brand-new device. This results in a rapid increase in e-waste each year. In addition, the dumping of e-waste from developed regions to developing countries such as India, China, and Pakistan are creating numerous opportunities for the effective management of e-waste.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><em>This article was contributed by our expert <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/mahendra-thanai-5b76aa47/">Mahendra Thanai</a></em></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h3 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 18pt;">Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Mahendra Thanai</span></h3><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">1. How does e-waste impact the environment ?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">E-Waste, also called electronic waste, is the name for electronic products that have come towards the end of their "beneficial life." It covers computers, monitors, televisions, stereos, copiers, printers, fax machines, cell phones, DVD players, cameras, batteries, and many more electronic devices. Electronic devices can be reused, resold, salvaged, recycled, or disposed of. E-waste has a horrible effect on the environment, and giving the e-waste to an R2-certified recycling facility is essential. </span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Some important facts about the environmental effects of e-waste:</span></p><ul><li style="list-style-type: none;"><ul><li style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Computers and most electronics contain toxic materials such as lead, zinc, nickel, flame retardants, barium, and chromium. Lead, if released into the environment, can cause damage to human blood, kidneys, as well as central and peripheral nervous systems.</span></li><li style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">When e-waste is warmed up, toxic chemicals are released into the air damaging the atmosphere. The damage to the atmosphere is one of the most significant environmental impacts of e-waste.</span></li><li style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">When electronic waste is thrown away in landfills, its toxic materials seep into groundwater, affecting land and sea animals. This can also affect people's health in developing countries where most of the electronic waste is dumped.</span></li></ul></li></ul><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">2. How is e-waste managed in India?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Consumers are the key to better management of e-waste. Initiatives such as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR); Design for Environment (DfE); Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (3Rs), a technology platform for linking the market and facilitating a circular economy, aims to encourage end users to correctly dispose of their e-waste with increased reuse and recycling rates and adopt sustainable consumer habits.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In developed countries, e-waste management is given high priority. At the same time, in India, it is aggravated by completely adopting or replicating the e-waste management of developed countries and several related problems, including a lack of investment and technically skilled human resources.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In addition, there is a lack of infrastructure and an absence of appropriate legislation explicitly dealing with e-waste.&nbsp;<br />Also, there is an inadequate description of the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and institutions involved in e-waste management, etc.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In 2016, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) released the updated E-waste (Management) Rules, which came in supersession of the E-waste in India (GOI, 2016).</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">3. Why do countries accept e-waste?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">The Basel Action Network (BAN) aims to ensure that e-waste is dealt with in an environment-friendly manner. It safeguards the planet from the toxic waste trade. China, Peru, Ghana, Nigeria, India, and Pakistan are the biggest recipients of e-waste from industrialized countries.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The BAN, Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition (SVTC), and Electronics Take-Back Coalition (ETBC) constitute an associated network of environmentaladvocacy NGOs in the US. The three organizations&rsquo; common objective is to promote national-level solutions for hazardous waste management. A recent initiative has been e-Stewards, a system for auditing and certifying recyclers and takeback programs so conscientious end users know which ones meet high standards.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4. Is recycling gold from electronics worth it?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Yes, but it is highly complicated. To have a profitable venture of extracting gold from electronics, an entrepreneur must meet quite a few criteria, including but not exclusive to:</p><ul><li style="list-style-type: none;"><ul><li style="text-align: justify;">Method of extraction</li><li style="text-align: justify;">High cost of entry</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Scale of the operation</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Environmental and Safety concerns</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Availability of scrap metal as raw material</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Logistics behind the whole process</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Integrated recycling approach</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Availability of trained workforce</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Legal requirements</li></ul></li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">5. Is e-waste management profitable?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Environmental pollution is of global concern, and with the increase in electronic waste, recycling has become an important option. There are multiple reasons to recycle e-waste, notably reducing environmental pollution and alleviating climate change. To e-waste effectively, it is necessary to understand the economics of the procedures.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Several factors influence the economics of recycling:</p><ul style="text-align: justify;"><li style="list-style-type: none;"><ul><li>The initial and total cost of equipment and materials recycling e-waste is higher than creating new products from those materials. This is due to the determinate resources required for recycling operations and the increased labor costs.</li><li>Next is the value of recycled materials. Although there is a market for recycled materials, they can be more expensive than new products made from raw materials.</li><li>In addition to the above, the cost associated with recycling e-waste is disposal. Proper disposal of e-waste means the separation and clean-up of hazardous substances, which can be expensive, tedious, minuscular, and time-consuming.</li><li>Irrespective of these costs, it is possible to profit from recycling e-waste if done correctly. A company must identify its specific needs and prices for product components to calculate an appropriate rate for turning electronic waste into new products.</li><li>Recycling electronic waste is a potentially profitable business for entities willing to invest in the necessary equipment and learn how to process the recycling process effectively. Several challenges are faced, but it can be profitable with perseverance and dedication.</li></ul></li></ul><p style="text-align: justify;">The most important factor to consider when recycling e-waste is determining whether the recycled material can be reused or recycled. Much of the old electronic equipment is made from materials that are no longer economically viable to recycle, such as plastic. The material must be appropriately disposed of in such cases to avoid environmental pollution.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Some materials can be recycled, but only if they are broken down into parts. For example, glass can be melted down and used again to create new glass products, but other materials, such as plastic, cannot be recycled in this way. To recycle these materials, they must first be discarded appropriately.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Once these inhibitions are understood, strategize a recycling operation. It brings us back to the first step, which is usually to identify which type of equipment needs to be collected and disposed of.</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">6. How is e-waste handled globally?</span></h2><ul><li style="text-align: justify;">International treaties such as Basel Convention aim at reducing and regulating the movement of hazardous waste between nations. Even with the Convention, illegal shipment and dumping of e-wastes continue its &lsquo;operation.&rsquo;</li><li style="text-align: justify;">It is estimated that over 120 million tonnes of e-waste was generated globally in 2021.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">One-half includes personal devices such as computers, screens, smartphones, tablets, and TVs, the remainder being larger household appliances and heating and cooling equipment.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Despite approximately 66 percent of the world&rsquo;s population being covered by e-waste legislation, only 20 percent of global e-waste is recycled each year, which means that over 75 million tonnes of e-waste are either burned for resource recovery or illegally traded and treated in a sub-standard way.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">In the US, approximately 175 million computers are thrown away, with less than 20 percent recycled properly.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">China disposes off over 200 million electronic devices a year.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Add to it; that China is regarded as the largest e-waste dumping site in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have expertise in dismantling electronic junk.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">E-waste volume is increasing globally at almost 20 percent annually.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">In India, the volume of e-waste generated was around 300,000 tonnes per year.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">However, these data only include e-waste generated nationally and do not include waste imports (both legal and illegal), which are substantial in emerging economies such as India and China.<br />This is because a large amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) enters India from foreign countries.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">It is pertinent to note here that Switzerland is the first country in the world to have established and implemented a formal e-waste management system that has recycled on an average 11 kg/capita of e-waste against the target of 4 kg/capita set by the European Union (EU).</li><li style="text-align: justify;">In the EU, the EU WEEE directive imposes collection, recovery, and recycling targets on its member countries. Thus, it stipulates a minimum collection target of 4 kg/capita per year for all the member states. These collections- and weight-based recycling targets seek to reduce the amount of hazardous substances disposed into landfills and increase the availability of recyclable materials, indirectly encouraging less consumption of virgin materials in new products.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Moreover, one-third of electrical and electronic waste in the EU is reported as separately collected and appropriately treated.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">The introduction of the EPR scheme in early 2000 was the most crucial step in South Korea, and producers collected about 75 percent of e-waste. Over the same period, the amount of e-waste reused and recycled was approximately 15 percent and 70 percent, respectively.<br />The remainder was sent to landfill sites or incineration plants, amounting to almost 25 percent.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">The lax or zero enforcement of existing regulatory framework, low level of awareness and sensitization, and inadequate occupational safety for those involved in these processes aggravate e-waste management in developing countries compared to the EU and Japan, which have well-developed capabilities and resourcefulness at all levels aimed at changing end-user practices.</li></ul><p>Therefore, developing countries must adopt efficacious strategies to encourage the reuse, refurbishing, or recycling of e-waste in diversified facilities to prevent environmental pollution and human health menace.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Mahendra Thanai

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