Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are being forced to explore new business models owing to an alarming increase in E-waste quantities due to the rapid growth in the use of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). As a result, manufacturers are focusing on creating and promoting recycled and refurbished electrical and electronic devices, known as circular electronics.
Governments also play an important role in handling E-waste properly and efficiently by enacting legislation such as extended producer responsibility (EPR). Advanced technologies such as automation, robots, and the Industrial Internet of Things must be used to replace traditional ways of processing (manual), sorting, burning, and incineration of E-waste (IIoT).
78.0 % of the 53.5 Trillion of E-waste created in 2020 will go uncollected and unreported, posing health and environmental risks. Development and availability of low-cost items, along with shorter product life cycles, are factors leading to rising E-waste quantities, in addition to variables such as higher quality of living, growth in disposable income, urbanisation and industrialisation.
As we move towards a new age of digitalisation and IIoT, with more reliance on electronic devices and communication, stakeholders throughout the value chain should prioritise resource reuse and recovery, as well as environmental safety.
In 2020, the worldwide WEEE recycling market was anticipated to be worth $3,854.5 million, up 3.7 percent yearly. The expansion of recyclers was aided by increased environmental awareness and commitment from top technology companies and electronic manufacturers to implement sustainable manufacturing and supply chain methods throughout the year. Over the next five years, this tendency is expected to continue, as companies in various EEE product areas adopt circular electronics as part of their long-term vision and strategy.
The top five environmental and sustainability themes we’ll see in 2021 will influence and redefine development and innovation opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders.
IT Asset Disposal (ITAD) Services are on the rise.
For more than a decade, investments in IT infrastructure management have surged by a factor of ten. As these IT assets approach their end of life, they pose concerns and need effective recycling and recovery techniques. The IT asset may be repurposed for commercial operations or secondary usage by the same company by erasing all data using software packages like data erasure. Alternatively, these assets might be reconditioned and resold in the market as used hardware.
This strategy has the dual advantages of complying with data rules with no trace of old data and (ii) adopting circular IT, which reuses, recycles, and refurbishes assets. ITAD systems are becoming more important for the administration of hyper-scale data centres built up by major technology companies worldwide as more businesses migrate from on-premise to cloud-based data centres.
Adding a Digital Passport to Products and Materials
From the time of product manufacturing until its consumption and disposal, an effective ‘track & trace’ feature will provide improved visibility and support the efforts of manufacturers, recyclers, and governments in combating E-waste.
A digital passport contains data about the materials and components of electronic goods and systems and recycling techniques, allowing for effective usage and recovery, recycling, and reuse at the end of their useful lives.
Creating Long-Term Supply Chains
To enhance product lifecycles and acquire a stronger presence in the market, leading EEE companies are providing buybacks, collecting advanced recycling costs (paid by the customer ahead at product purchase), and selling refurbished items as part of their business plans. With the effective and efficient collection, recycling, and recovery technologies, more than $57 billion worth of raw materials might be recovered from the present level of E-waste created. Urban mining has emerged as a critical facilitator in preserving precious metals and promoting a circular economy.
Due to the existence of costly and uncommon rare earth metals such as silver, gold, platinum, neodymium, indium, ruthenium, rhodium, iridium, and osmium, as well as other important elements such as cobalt and palladium, recycling of electric and electronic devices is becoming an essential aspect. EEE manufacturers anticipate a limited supply of rare metals in the medium to long term, necessitating effective recycling and recovery solutions.
Electronics As a Service to Encourage Zero Waste and Open Up New Revenue Opportunities
By bridging the market gap in the repair, collection, and recycling of electronic items, electronic firms may solve critical environmental demands while unlocking new income potential.
SDG 12 focuses on environmentally responsible production and consumption, with an emphasis on EEE. Enterprises are required to use best practices that safeguard and promote human and environmental safety across their value chain.
This involves a trend toward me longer product lifespans, (ii) closed-loop manufacturing, (iii) buyback and exchange policies, (iv) urban mining, and (v) reverse supply chain.
Design for the Long Term
The design has become critical in the transition to a more sustainable future for EEE and inadequately addressing E-negative waste’s effects. Redesigning things and adding smart end-of-life solutions are all part of the design for sustainability, which also focuses on increasing awareness among makers and customers and shifting behaviour from linear to circular.
This strategy necessitates a stronger emphasis on circular design, in-build sustainability, and, as a result, a larger focus on reducing E-waste creation. Designers and manufacturers are concentrating on developing long-lasting, regenerative, restorative, and zero-waste materials and products.