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Market potential of innovative e-waste recycling technologies in developing countries

TitleMarket potential of innovative e-waste recycling technologies in developing countries
Publication TypeProceedings Article
Year of Conference2009
AuthorsSchluep M, Hagelüken C, Meskers C, F. M, Wang F, Müller E, Kuehr R, Maurer C, Sonnemann G
Conference NameR'09 World Congress
Conference Start Date14/09/2009
Conference LocationDavos, Switzerland
Keywordse-waste, innovative & sustainable recycling technology, StEP, UNEP resource panel
AbstractThe United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identified e-waste as one of their most relevant topics with regard to their Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Consumption and Production initiatives. As a result the study ”Recycling – from E-waste to Resources” was commissioned to an expert consortium around the “Solving the e-Waste Problem” StEP initiative. This paper presents one of the key outcomes of this study - the analysis of the market potential of innovative technologies for the e-waste recycling sector in selected developing countries. Criteria to compare and select innovative technologies are grouped along the elements of sustainability. The analysis rated a few technologies to have an innovation potential for developing countries. This includes the pre-processing technologies “manual dismantling/ sorting of fractions”, “de-gassing CFC, HCFC” and “semi-automatic CRT cut and cleaning”, as well as the end-processing technologies integrated smelter for non-ferrous material and aluminium remelter/refiner. Based on a selection of developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the study suggests that all countries would have a potential for the adaptation of the mentioned pre-processing technologies. Due to the large volumes and high investments needed to establish state-of-the-art end-processing facilities, a mid-term medium potential for integrated smelters could only be identified in larger emerging economies, whereas aluminium remelter / refiner have a potential in most countries. Informal collection and manual dismantling activities do not necessarily need to be transformed to formalized processes and often have advantages over the introduction of new technologies from a sustainability point of view. However, all other informal activities such as wetchemical leaching bear great adverse environmental and social impacts and are also often less attractive from an economical point of view.
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