According to a soon-to-be-released report, the worldwide market for electronic waste will rise at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 8.8 per cent from $7.2 billion in 2004 to $11 billion in 2009.
“RE-128 Electronic Waste Recovery Business” a report from Business Communications Company, Inc. says the recycled plastics sector will register the fastest revenue growth, or a 10.2 per cent AAGR, as demand increases for high value engineered plastics. By 2009, a greater percentage of these plastics will be reaching the waste stream. Growth in metals mined from end of life electronic waste will continue to outpace the broader recycled metals market, growing at an AAGR of 8.1 per cent. The market for recycled glass continues to be stagnant with low value attached to recycled glass. Glass cullets sold into the marketplace will continue to command modest prices. However, the market demand is strong and growing for recovered cathode ray tube feedstock reused in new CRTs. This higher value glass-to-glass recycling will help drive an AAGR of 7.5 per cent.
Overall, the market for post-consumer recycled materials from electronics will be strong over the next five years. The largest driver of growth will be the regulatory-driven onus on OEMs to manage hazardous waste materials from cradle-to-grave. This lifecycle begins with designing for the environment and in certain regions of the world now requires OEMS to finance all recovery costs of electronics products and their constituent materials. The need to rapidly curb toxins in the waste stream is apparent as electronic waste grows at three times the rate of other waste in the municipal solid waste stream.
E-waste has been mounting rapidly with the rise of the information society. It is the fastest growing segment of the municipal solid waste stream. E-waste equals 1 per cent of solid waste on average in developed countries and is expected to grow to 2 per cent by 2010. In developing countries, E-waste as a percentage of solid waste can range from 0.01 per cent to 1 per cent. However, led by China, developing countries will be the fastest growing segment of the E-waste market with the potential to triple output over the next five years. Electric and electronic equipment equals 6 per cent of the U.S. gross domestic product, up from 5 per cent, 10 years ago. Yet that growth is easily eclipsed by that of China’s where the gross domestic product is growing in excess of 8 per cent a year — versus 3 per cent for the United States.
At the same time, the rate of obsolescence of electronic equipment is rising. Globally, computer sales continue to grow at 10 per cent plus rates annually. Sales of DVD players are doubling year over year. Yet the lifecycle of these products are shortening, shrinking to 10 years for a television set and 2 or 3 years for a computer. Unfortunately, manufacturers and governments have not kept pace with E-waste policy and practice. As a result, a high percentage of electronics are ending up in the waste stream releasing dangerous toxins into the environment.
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