India’s fast growing middle and upper classes are consuming electronic gadgets at an astounding rate.The replacement cycle has also decreased dramatically as growing disposable incomes means that laptops and mobile phones are being upgraded in short time periods .However unlike US and Europe ,India lacks the regulations for the safe disposal of massive amounts of […]

This has started to make smart money increasingly interested in metal recycles.KKR the leading PE firm has made a $95 million dollar bet acquiring a leading metal recycler CMA. First Reserve followed suit soon afterwards with a 10 time bigger bet buying Metallum.Note e-waste recycling has become a highly profitable business as well both due to increasing government regulation and rising realizations from the useful products like gold,silver,copper extracted after recycling.Recycling is a Green alternative to extracting metal from mining as it uses less money,effort,energy reducing GHG emissions.

Electronic Waste is a massive problem in the Developed and Developing world with Thousands of Tons of Hazardous Electronic Waste being generated each year.With Electronics getting more ubiquitous and costs falling rapidly,Electronic Waste Problem is only going to increase.E-Waste is responsible not only for releasing dangerous substances into the environment it also causes deaths and injuries to poor in countries like India,China and Africa who are forced to work in extremely bad conditions.Electronic Waste Recycling is the need of the hour but the governments around the world have not pushed hard enough.Europe has been at the forefront with the WEEE directive passed in 2002 while USA has been a laggard as usual failing to prevent toxic waste from being dumped in landfills and shipped to poor countries with lax environmental regulations.Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 has been passed in California which again as usual has been leading the federal government on clean technology legislation.

Electronic waste is defined as loosely discarded, surplus, obsolete, or broken electrical and electronic devices.It consists of secondary computers, electronics,LCDs,computers,mobile phones etc which have been discarded or thrown by the owners.The rapid decline in the cost of semiconductors due to Moore’s law has led to a rapid increase in the size of the electronics industry which is more than $1 trillion dollar globally.Millions of electronics items are thrown out each year leading to mountains of Electronic Waste.If not treated and Recycled,E-Waste can be hazardous to the environment and lead to wastage of precious materials which can be reused.Lost electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals that can be recovered for future uses. By dismantling and providing reuse possibilities, intact natural resources are conserved and air and water pollution caused by hazardous disposal is avoided.Electronic Waste Recycling companies are quite disorganized without major global e-recycling companies.The E-Waste Manageress industry still consists mainly of thousands of workers in developing countries like India where they continue to work in dangerous conditions.1,200 small companies generated revenue of around $5 billion last year.This is expected to treble by 2015 as more countries make electronic waste management compulsory and the sheer volume of electronics grows (think iPads)

E-waste generally consists of obsolete devices such as DVDs, CDs, floppies, tapes and electronic components including chips, processors, mother boards, printed circuit boards and industrial electronics. E-waste contains many hazardous substances like heavy metals, PVC plastics, brominated flame retardants.When disposed off in a landfill, it becomes a conglomeration of plastic and steel casings, circuit boards, glass tubes, wires, resistors, capacitors, fluorescent tubes, and other assorted parts and materials. It is both valuable as a source of secondary raw material, and toxic if treated and discarded improperly. he USA discards 30 million computers each year and 100 million phones are disposed of in Europe each year. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled, the rest of these electronics go directly into landfills and incinerators.India’s rapidly growing economy generates more than 500,000 tons of electronic waste every year, a number expected to reach 1 million tons by 2012. The obsolete computer and cellphone parts are dismantled, refurbished and recycled manually by hundreds of thousands of unorganized villagers across the country.

China has come under a lot of fire for its proectionist trade policies from mulitnational corporations like Siemens,GE,Google as well as its major trading partners.One of the bones of contention is its export restrictions on crucial minerals like zinc,lead,cadmium, gold, indium, iron ore, lime, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, phosphate, salt, tin, tungsten, vanadium and zinc.China is surprisingly the biggest producer of these minerals and has been hoarding these minerals.Note China is the biggest importer of minerals like copper,coal,iron ore etc. so its hoarding is surprising.This action by China came under the scanner when it restricted the export of rare earth minerals over a small dispute with Japan.This resulted in alarm bells ringing in Europe,USA and Japan.These countries scurried for alternative sources of these crucial REE in other places as China controlled more than 95% of the world’s supply.