E-waste (electronic and electrical waste) recycling and reuse (R&R) services include a wide plethora of business types, such as collectors, de-manufacturers, material processors, asset managers, recyclers and refurbishers. Companies involved in the e-waste R&R industry purchase, refurbish, recycle and sell used (working or non-working), obsolete or surplus electronic and electrical (E&E) items – including everything from computers and cell phones to refrigerators and microwaves, as well as E&E components and parts – including CRT tubes, plastics and precious metals).
The e-waste R&R services industry is complex and sometimes could even be referred to as elusive. A simple route for an electronic item on its way to be recycled may entail collection from a garbage collector, triage by a dismantling company and then final processing by an end processor, such as a smelter or refiner. More complex routes may be more difficult to track and E&E items may find themselves undocumented in storage somewhere, overseas illegally or even in landfills. It is not uncommon for an e-waste collector, or even dismantler, to have little or no knowledge regarding the destination of its products. This situation is changing, however, as the regulatory framework for e-waste R&R services becomes more established – at least in some regions -and as the market continues to evolve and grow.
In 2010 the e-waste R&R services market value totaled close to $6.8 billion, up from $6.2 billion in 2009. Industry growth is expected to continue on its uphill path at least through the next decade, with collection services alone more than tripling by 2020. In 2010, China and India (out of the top ten country pool) are estimated to retain the largest market shares, in terms of value, with approximate shares of 23.7% and 21.6% respectively.