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Major revival of e-scrap volumes ‘in the coming months’

The pandemic may take a heavy toll on electronics scrap supply but there’s light at the end of the tunnel with worldwide volumes picking up again, experts agreed during an online discussion hosted by the BIR world recycling organisation.

The lockdown has had huge impact on supply within the US, said Josephita Harry of Miami-based Pan American Zinc. But she also argued that substantial volumes of e-scrap were likely to come forward in the near future as a result of the increased reliance on electronics for educational purposes and also for working from home. ‘A lot of devices used during the crisis need to be replaced or repaired sooner or later. There’s going to be a lot of older devices coming out of the market in the coming months,’ she insisted.

According to Thomas Papageorgiou of Greece-based Anamet, the closure of the retail shops sector and the suspension of many scrap dealer operations had caused a dramatic decrease in e-scrap across Europe, particularly in his own country.

Where would we be without IT?

Papageorgiou stressed that technology was playing a crucial role in guiding the world through the current pandemic, not least by enabling businesses to continue to function through a huge increase in home-working. ‘I hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t had the opportunities which have come through technology,’ he said.

But while Covid-19 had underlined that electronics – and, by extension, the e-scrap management industry – were ‘very important for the whole globe’, recyclers’ activities were often viewed with unmerited scepticism, he lamented, referring to ever-stricter and ever-complex regulation and legislation which causes electronics recyclers and e-scrap exporters more and more headaches.

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