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Challenges For E-Waste Recycling Sector

It has been reported that the e-waste recycling sector is currently struggling economically in difficult market conditions.

Licensed under CC - credit Flickr user: Wolfie Fox
Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Wolfie Fox

E-waste recycling has always posed significant challenges, including the implementation of reverse logistics mechanisms, the illegal exporting of e-waste and challenging in effective material separation or reconfiguration for sale.

However, current conditions, which are seeing electronics products becoming increasingly small and where oil prices are very low, are apparently making trading in that marketplace even more difficult.

Electronics devices contain less and less valuable materials and precious metals, which make reduce the size of economic urban mining opportunities. In itself, this isn’t a bad trend, but it does carry negative impacts when combined with designs that make materials harder to extract. At the moment, it’s a case of increasing disassembly challenges combined with decreasing incentives. The situation is currently being made worse by the sharp drop in commodities prices, including metals.

Many recycling enterprises have already been forced to shut down plants in different parts of the world. The problem isn’t in the metals sector exclusively, there are challenges for the secondary materials market more broadly.

It’s clear that the secondary materials market won’t be able to depend on volume alone. There is a call for regulation to support enterprises working with in the recycled materials market, but there’s also potentially a concurrent need for innovation from recyclers themselves to embrace a more diverse role in a future circular economy.

Source: E-Waste Recyclers Being Squeezed by Low Quantities & Low Prices

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Seb Egerton-Read

Seb Egerton-Read

Seb writes daily content for Circulate across the full spectrum of the website's topics. Previously he has spent five years as a freelance writer for a number of websites and blogs. You can e-mail Seb at seb[at]