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Europe leads e-waste recycling

Global e-waste recovery revenues to hit $14.7 billion by 2015

The worldwide market for e-waste recovery will grow from US$5.7 billion in 2009 to nearly $14.7 billion by the end of 2014, representing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20.8 percent over the forecast period. This figure represents money generated through reclamation of valuable materials from e-scrap.

Figures are from a new market study "e-Waste Recovery and Recycling" by ABI Research.

Although the legal framework for e-waste recycling remains strongest in Europe under the region's stringent WEEE directive, efforts made on behalf of non-profit groups such as the Basel Action Network (BAN) and e-Stewards Initiative are driving improvements in many other regions of the world, especially the US.

Companies such as Apple are now strongly pushing their green credentials, showing customers how to recycle Apple products. Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a special point of talking about recycling when he launched the Apple iPad.

Depending on how they are handled, discarded electronic products and components - or e-waste, as they are collectively known - can represent either a major environmental dilemma or a massive potential economic windfall.

If treated properly, much e-waste may be reclaimed or recycled for future use and converted into a significant new revenue stream.

Improperly treated e-waste, on the other hand, poses a massive threat to the world's ecosystem and can result in contamination to the soil, air, and water, while also exposing workers, nearby residents, and wildlife to a multitude of health hazards.

Spurs to growth include rising e-waste collection and recycling rates; the increasingly greater availability of innovative and cost-effective recycling technologies; the strengthening recycling infrastructure and legal framework worldwide; global electronics markets and their significant growth in developing economies, and the integration of formal and informal recycling markets in key Asia-Pacific locations.

ABI Research practice director Larry Fisher says: "The economic downturn of recent years shook the global waste management industry to its core. Plummeting commodity prices shriveled demand for recycled materials and transformed recycling from an honorable, profitable venture to a cash-hemorrhaging dilemma for a multitude of municipalities and companies."

However, he believes that "The combined impact of the ongoing global economic recovery and strengthening e-waste recycling legislation worldwide will drive improved recycling/recovery rates in each of the next five years."

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