Top 3 Reasons Why E-Waste and Electronic Recycling Will Change
The e-waste recycling industry is an ever-evolving one, resulting in constant change and growth. Change can be beneficial, but particular market changes can also alter the cost of doing business — for better or worse.
Several key changes in the recycling industry have already affected recyclers and will continue to impact the industry for years to come.
1) Difficulty with Recycling Plastics and CRT Glass
As of late, there has been an increase in the difficulty of exporting products like paper, plastics and other low-grade materials to overseas countries for recycling. For instance, Malaysia has issued a permanent ban on the import of plastic waste. Perhaps most notably, China banned 24 varieties of solid waste, including several plastics and unsorted paper.
Before this year, China processed 45 percent of the world’s plastic waste imports for use in manufacturing. In January of 2018, they refused to take on more, changing the future of countries exporting raw material.
Canada specifically had been sending about 20 percent of their plastic recyclables to China on an annual basis. Without the option of exporting recyclable materials overseas, “green fences” are forcing countries to come up with alternative solutions for dealing with their own waste, rather than exporting it, and they are unprepared to do so.
Green fences stir the urgency to support a circular economy. But for many countries, the need to adapt to reducing the waste-to-landfill ratio and re-purpose the materials being recycled is a challenge for which they are not yet prepared.
Ever-changing technology in how waste is processed is part of the operational cost increase. North America is playing catch-up to countries that are more advanced in the management of waste, secure destruction and environmental compliance.
In order to adapt and remain competitive, recyclers are having to push the envelope with investments in new technology, additional training and new levels of industrial certifications. All of which come with a hefty price tag to continue operating in the industry.
No longer able to comply with new standards, regulations and higher overhead, many of these increasing costs are even forcing some organizations to close down operations.
2) Processing Costs are Increasing
Operational expenditures have also spiked, in part due to recent changes in Ontario’s wage increases and a general labour shortage. On January 1st of this year, minimum wage in Ontario increased by 20 percent. Higher labour raises the overall cost of doing business, regardless of the industry.
As the expense of processing items such as electronics waste with flame retardant plastics, the demand for these items has diminished. Fewer countries are willing to pay for low grade recyclables, and the ones that do, pay much lower prices than the industry was previously accustomed to, further reducing this source of revenue.
Another factor that can affect costs is the type of material. Contaminants in some recyclable products, like CRT leaded glass and LCD monitors, which make up more than 50% of materials processed, make processing these materials more complicated and raise the price of sorting and recycling materials significantly.
Subsequently, contaminated recyclables are worth less and lower the value of potentially exportable materials. Recyclers are unable to recoup the cost of processing, making them less likely to take responsible care for certain types of e-waste.
3) Heavily Controlled Marketplace
The Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) program runs and controls the WEEE market in Ontario. In June of 2020, this program will cease operation and leaves future program initiatives largely unknown.
Until then, the program has started to wind down. Recyclers are instructed to continue to operate within the current program parameters and low set incentive rates, despite additional challenges and costs that have been presented within the industry. Service providers will be forced to cut services and costs to survive.
Throughout these current challenges in recycling, Greentec continues to adapt and offer the best in safe, secure e-waste recycling services. Our efforts to support the circular economy include innovative technology, higher certifications and the ability to adapt to industry changes.