The increasing volume of waste electrical and electronics equipment (WEEE) coupled with scarcity of precious metals, high cost of mining, and limited landfill capacity have lent momentum to the European WEEE recycling market, finds Frost & Sullivan. The European waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling market earned revenues of $1.30 billion in 2012 and is estimated to reach $1.79 billion in 2020.
The need to recycle e-waste has prompted waste management companies to optimize collection systems as well as recovery and recycling technologies, further aiding market development in the region, says the consulting firm .
“Strict European Union legislations, escalating landfill prices, and awareness on the environmental impact of WEEE have heightened demand for recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment in Europe,” said Frost & Sullivan Energy and Environmental research analyst Monika Chrusciak. “The market is also supported by policy initiatives banning the landfilling of certain types of waste as well as requirements concerning collection and recycling targets.”
However, national WEEE recycling legislations are not properly aligned with these EU standards and the ensuing variances in interpretation affect enforcement and curb market growth. Lack of efficiency in the collection of WEEE material from source, slow execution of environmentally-sound recycling processes, and most importantly, difficulties in meeting final recycler needs add to the challenge.
These shortcomings can be easily addressed when market participants understand that the quality and quantity of available WEEE material for recycling can be improved through direct and close collaboration with the customer, says Frost & Sullivan.
“The market will continue to grow as governments, especially in Scandinavia, Alpine States and Germany, create transparent legal frameworks for WEEE recycling development and commercialisation,” noted Ms. Chrusciak. “Germany, France, Italy and Central and Eastern Europe, in particular, offer immense opportunities.”
The ultimate objective of WEEE processing and recycling operators is to apply processes that recover resource materials in a cost effective manner and lowers environmental impact. This will highlight the legal responsibility of electric and electronic equipment producers and distributors towards the entire life cycle of the manufactured product.
Electrical and electronic equipment account for the fastest growing volume of waste generated. Consequently, managing this waste has become imperative to limit hazardous elements and to decrease illegal dumping and export to cheaper countries.