Economic analysis conducted by a European research group has calculated the overall worth of bringing e-waste streams into the circular economy to be €2.15 billion in Europe. That figure could rise to €3.67 billion as the volume of electronic products increases.
The European research group analyses 14 common categories of e-products: “liquid crystal display (LCD) notebooks, TVs and monitors; light emitting diode (LED) notebooks, TVs and monitors; cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs and monitors; mobile phones; smart phones; photovoltaic panels; hard disk drives; solid state disks; and tablets.” They looked at the potential of recovering the valuable and scarce metals and critical materials in those products.
In terms of products, some of the highest potential economic returns could be gained on mobile phones, TVs and LCD notebooks.
Meanwhile, the research found that the value of gold in EEE waste is so high that it makes up nearly half of the economic recovery potential. The study was relatively exhaustive, including plastics, which made up a little under 10% of the recovery potential in monetary terms.
The analysis is a further demonstration of the economic potential that exists in transitioning to circular economy models. It is worth noting that capturing the economic value showcased here will require the development of more sophisticated recycling technologies and new business models that enable a more effective flow of materials.
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