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The Economics of E-Waste Recycling

2017-03-29 09:37:59 | 日記
There are layers of difficulty when it comes to recycling electronics materials back into usable products.

First off, there's the issue of actually making the materials usable again. After all, for a recycling center to operate, the materials it produces must be used. The centers can’t just recycle material and then hoard it in storage containers.

Even if a recycling center can produce a usable material, the next question is whether or not anyone will buy it. Perhaps the largest issue is that successful municipal solid waste recycling machine is only viable when the use of such material by a manufacturer does not come at a cost to that manufacturer. In other words, why would a manufacturer use recycled material if purchasing new raw material is a cheaper alternative?

This leads to the crux of the recyclable materials issue: economics.
Recycling centers must also consider what can be considered an acceptable loss for selling recycled materials. Many recycling centers are funded by local governments but must sell the materials they produce to help balance the budget. Therefore, when deciding what price to sell the material at, the raw material cost for virgin material must be considered, as well. This leads to a problem where, if a raw material suddenly drops in value, a center may have to cease recycling as they will not be able to sell that recovered material at an acceptable price and stay in business.

Thanks to the recent value drop in lead glass, for example, one recycling center in Brunswick County, North Carolina, is now refusing old electronic waste. This is a situation that we can see repeated across the US. From Rhode Island to New Jersey to Texas, facilities decline to accept e-waste recycling equipment primarily for financial reasons, often in conjunction with changes to local or state regulations.
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