Electronic products can be seen as already existing resources in the global economy. It has become apparent that their importance to the economy is growing exponentially, especially in emerging economies. Today a lot of international electronic waste ends up in India illegally, where it is recycled through an unorganized sector around the major cities of the country. Here, the recycling of e-waste has immense value and the entire process functions like a mini-economy. However, there is a clear dilemma between the efficient economic model to the severely damaging effect that the unorganized recycling of e-waste has to the health of workers and on the environment. On a global scale, facts are that the in-use stock of metals in cities and in society are growing each year. More people need more houses, more transportation and more electrical devices like mobile phones, computers, kitchen appliances and other consumer goods. Most end-of-life products contain metals and minerals in higher concentrations than primary resources. These in-use stock of resources are the urban mines of the future. The Danish based company Averhoff and Belgian based company Umicore are among the world’s leading recyclers of precious metals. The recycling market is growing rapidly and an efficient urban mining policy could save billions of Euros each year through the maximisation of returns from waste. Notes on Recycling; • RE-cycling rates are less than 1% for 34 of the speciality metals that are mostly found in electronic products • RE-cycling metals is between 2-10 times more energy efficient than smelting the metals from virgin ores
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This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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