In 2017, the electronics recycling industry continues to focus on and adjust to some longstanding issues while beginning to turn attention to emerging challenges.
In the realm of recurring challenges, CRT recycling and disposal continues to impact the industry and has entered a new phase with respect to assessing liability (criminal and financial) among the suppliers of material and is no longer confined to the irresponsible recyclers only.
The long-term development of voluntary certification programs for electronics recyclers has reached a level of maturity and widespread acceptance among recyclers, clients and institutions. There are currently 735 facilities worldwide certified to R2.
The three pillars of responsible electronics recycling (data security, value recovery, and environmental protection) continue to be as essential in 2017 as they were 10 years ago.
In addition to the traditional issues mentioned above, the electronics recycling industry faces some new challenges as well.
The wireless explosion and Internet of Things will accelerate the convergence of electronic products and the industries in which they are contained. Automobiles, appliances, and consumer electronics join an ever-widening array of electronic product sets. Adding to the challenges of responsible electronics, power for these devices is often provided by rechargeable batteries that have their own specific recycling requirements.
The industry consolidation that previously centered on acquisition by multi-national distributors has shifted gears a bit. In the past few years, more traditional metal recyclers have entered the electronics recycling arena. In general, these newer participants have the expertise, infrastructure, and resources to integrate electronics recycling practices into their organizations.
One area that will likely receive additional attention in the next few years is precious metal recycling. Since precious metals in circuit boards contain 80 percent of the commodity value but less than 0.1 percent of weight, there will be continued development of new efficiencies and technologies to recover and conserve these valuable resources domestically.
ISRI Electronics Division Chair