ABI Research Forecasts $14.7 B in e-Waste Market by 2014

Discarded electronic products and components – or e-waste, as they are collectively known – can represent 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, can result in contamination to the soil, air, and water, while also exposing workers, nearby residents, and wildlife to a multitude of health hazards.

A new market study by ABI Research, “e-Waste Recovery and Recycling,” forecasts that the worldwide market for e-waste recovery will grow from $5.7 billion in 2009 to nearly $14.7 billion by the end of 2014, representing a compound annual growth rate of 20.8 percent over the forecast period. This figure represents money generated through reclamation of valuable materials from e-scrap. The study is available for a fee.

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.

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.” 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 United States.