End-of-life electronic scrap, obsolete electronic devices and residues from the various manufacturing are building an above-ground mine, contributing to the global need for precious metals, copper, tin and various special metals and materials. The market, especially of end-of-life products, is big and growing fast. But, it is also a very complex and heterogeneous market. The lifetime of electronic equipment ranges from one year to over 20 years.
The material composition of the different categories of electronic equipment varies extremely. It can also change rapidly within one category over time. Furthermore, new products which we cannot even think of today, will be on sale tomorrow.
Few materials of "high" intrinsic value make recycling economically viable in itself, but for the majority recycling is a means of preventing harm to the environment and to at least recover what is there to be had.
Reuse of today = recycling for tomorrow. We have to make sure that reuse in countries with no proper recycling policy/infrastructure does not imply that equipment doesn't get recycled environmentally sound when it becomes obsolete after its second, third, etc life
This all requires dedicated recycling specialists cooperating in a distinct share of labour, cost-efficient, flexible processes with continuous innovation and high environmental standards - as well as companies that act responsibly. Umicore is very well placed in this context and offers its services to all relevant stakeholders and market segments.