Electronics recycling within the U.S. keeps growing because the industry consolidates and matures. The way forward for electronics recycling – a minimum of within the U.S., and possibly globally – is going to be driven by electronics technology, gold and silver, and industry structure, particularly. Although there are more stuff that may influence the – for example electronic devices collections, legislation and rules and export issues – I have faith that these 3 factors have a more profound effect on the way forward for electronics recycling.
The newest data around the industry – from the survey conducted through the Worldwide Data Corporation (IDC) and backed through the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) – discovered that the (this year) handled roughly 3.5 million a lot of electronics with revenues of $5 billion and directly employed 30,000 people – which continues to be growing at approximately 20% yearly within the last decade. And can this growth continue?
Pc equipment has dominated volumes handled through the electronics recycling industry. The IDC study reported that more than 60% by weight of industry input volumes was “computer equipment” (including Computers and monitors). But recent surveys by IDC and Gartner reveal that shipments of desktop and laptops have declined by greater than 10% which the shipments of tablets and smartphones now each exceed those of Computers. About 1 billion smartphones is going to be shipped in 2013 – and the very first time exceed the volumes of conventional mobile phones. And shipments of ultra-light laptops and laptop-tablet hybrids are growing quickly. So, we’re entering the “Publish-PC Era”.
Additionally, CRT TVs and monitors happen to be a substantial area of the input volumes (by weight) within the recycling stream Up to 75% from the “electronic devices” stream. And also the demise from the CRT implies that less CRT TVs and monitors is going to be entering the recycling stream – substituted with smaller sized/lighter flat screens.
So, exactly what do these technology trends mean towards the electronics recycling industry? Do these advances in technology, which result in size reduction, create a “smaller sized materials footprint” and fewer total volume (by weight)? Since cellular devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets) already represent bigger volumes than Computers – and most likely start faster – they’ll most likely dominate the long run volumes entering the recycling stream. And they’re not only much smaller sized, but typically cost under Computers. And, traditional laptops are now being substituted with ultra-books in addition to tablets – meaning laptops equivalent will be a lot smaller sized and weighs less.
So, despite constantly growing amount of electronics, the load volume entering the recycling stream can start decreasing. Typical pc processors weigh 15-20 lbs. Traditional laptops weigh 5-7 lbs. However the new “ultra-books” weigh 3-4 lbs. So, if “computers” (including monitors) have comprised about 60% from the total industry input volume by weight and TVs have comprised a sizable area of the amount of “electronic devices” (about 15% of the profession input volume) – then as much as 75% from the input volume might be susceptible to the load decrease in technology – possibly over a 50% reduction. And, similar technology change and size reduction is happening in other markets – e.g., telecommunications, industrial, medical, etc.
However, the natural worth of these units might be greater than Computers and CRTs (for resale in addition to scrap – per unit weight). So, industry weight volumes may decrease, but revenues could still increase (with resale, materials recovery value and services). And, since cellular devices are anticipated to show over more quickly than Computers (that have typically switched in 3-five years), these alterations in the electronics recycling stream can happen within five years or fewer.