Quick Facts:

  • In 2017, 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste were produced globally
  • 90% of which was sent to landfill, incinerated, illegally traded or treated in a sub-standard way
  • The European Union will generate a total of 12mn tonnes of electronic waste in 2020, up from 9mn tonnes in 2005

Data from new electronics

A recent report by new electronics released data and statistics on the UK’s consumer electronic waste problem. Electronic waste is a global issue and has an impact on the circular economy, sustainability and the environment. The improper disposal of electronics waste has also led to an increase of theft and criminal activity in harvesting parts and melting plastic. This post will provide an overview of the new electronics research and findings along with additional information on what is being done in the U.S. with the SERI institute and how trade in programs and selling through the secondary market can help alleviate many of the problems associated with electronic waste. 

Electronics waste is a fast growing problem

Waste of electrical and electronic equipment, or WEEE, is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU. The UK alone produces 24.9kg of e-waste per person, compared to an EU average of 17.7kg. In the UK, this waste is managed under the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013. On the producer’s end, they have a financial responsibility for the end-of-life of their products, which is calculated by market share, but they do not have to reprocess their own goods. Instead, collections are carried out via Household Waste Recycling Centres and take-back schemes are run by retailers or local authorities. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) set an annual target for the collection of WEEE at 550,577 tonnes, a 12% increase from 2018.

Major appliances make up the bulk of waste

In the UK, large household appliances make up 40% of WEEE. A large part of the problem for recycling major appliances is finding a recycling facility. The lack of facilities, and the rampant practice of simply throwing away appliances and other electronics, makes it easy for criminals to scavenge for parts. Statements indicate that up to 25% of certain WEEE categories in the EU end up being stolen.

Hazards of e-waste

When a consumer simply tosses an old electronic device, like a mobile phone, into the trash, they are doing more than throwing away a piece of aluminum and glass; they are essentially throwing out up to 60 different metals and chemicals, some of which are hazardous to human health and the environment. These chemicals can then contaminate the soil, pollute water sources and then ultimately enter food supply chains. What’s more, with the increase in theft of e-waste, criminals are practicing crude recycling techniques, such as burning plastic and harvesting the valuable metals. These activities can result in workers being exposed to toxic substances and carcinogens, which can  lead to health problems.

In the U.S., the SERI Institute is working hard on these exact problems through the R2 Standard. The goal is to keep electronic waste out of landfills, extend the life of products, and establish worker health and safety standards for the electronics refurbishing and recycling industry. They are working hand-in-hand with the world’s largest carriers, retailers, OEMs and more to create a sustainable future. 

Used electronics  are worth more than you might think 

Electronic waste is hugely valuable and is estimated to be worth at least $62.5 billion annually. Devices often contain a certain amount of gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium, which has led to the growth of the secondary market for products such as smartphones.

For most carriers, retailers, and OEMs, trade in programs are very popular as a means for consumers to trade in their old device in exchange for a discount on a new device. When a consumer trades in their device, that device can be either refurbished for resale (extending the life of the device); or the device can be sold as salvage to a local recycling facility that is equipped for proper smelting and harvesting; or the devices can be sold in bulk into the secondary market.

Use B-Stock to sell excess consumer electronics

B-Stock is the world’s largest B2B marketplace for returned, excess and other liquidation  inventory. Today’s largest electronics, mobile, and appliance retailers and manufacturers are using B-Stock’s online auction platform to sell excess mobile devices, consumer electronics, and major appliances to a vetted and global buyer base (including R2 certified and salvage buyers).

Private, branded marketplaces

By selling in bulk through a private, branded auction marketplace, directly to a large network of buyers, retailers are able to offset more loss for previously deemed obsolete inventory. In addition to increased pricing, B-Stock’s B2B marketplace solution enables an  efficient sales channel to keep supply chains moving and preventing warehouses from hitting capacity. 

A buyer base exists for everything – including salvage products 

A big secondary market exists with business buyers interested in items across all categories and conditions, this includes many that are solely interested in recycling or repurposing salvage products for their own business needs. The key is the ability to find and sell directly to these buyers. B-Stock has spent years vetting and nurturing a dedicated base of hundreds of thousands of business buyers from 135+ countries and are pleased to provide a direct sales channel between these buyers and our clients. By ditching traditional methods, including disposing of historically hard-to-sell merchandise like salvage or damaged, and replacing that with a sustainable solution in the form of a B2B liquidation marketplace, our clients to date have enabled the recycling, repurposing, reuse or resale of over 180 million items.

Four in a row: B-Stock Named a Green Supply Chain Award Winner

Read more on Selling Secondary Market Consumer Electronics

Read more on Recycling and the Secondary Market

Read more on Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the R2 Standard

If you would like to learn more about selling used consumer electronics, mobile phones, or appliances through B-Stock, schedule a demo today.

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