BEIJING (Reuters) – The potential value of recyclable metals in discarded mobile phones, laptops and desktop computers in China will more than double to around $24 billion by 2030, environmental group Greenpeace forecast on Thursday.
China, the world’s largest mobile phone market, is trying to promote recycling of electronic waste, or e-waste, to improve its environment, cut costs and ease its dependence on foreign resource imports.
In a report carried out with the China Association of Electronics for Technology Development, Greenpeace said rising consumption levels would take the potential economic value of recyclable metals in mobile phone and computer motherboards to 160 billion yuan (£18.17 billion) by 2030.
That compares to 66.4 billion yuan in 2018 and a projected 81 billion yuan in 2020.
If other electronic waste products are taken into account, the potential value would be higher, according to the report, which looked at a range of metals such as gold, silver, copper and iron.
In tonnage terms, China’s e-waste is seen rising from 13 million tonnes in 2018 to 15.4 million tonnes in 2020 and 27.2 million tonnes in 2030, at an average annual growth rate of 10.4 percent.
Industry research shows a tonne of discarded mobile phones – excluding the battery – contains more than 270 grams of gold, the report noted, illustrating that the gold content of this “sleeping mine” is much higher than in an average high-grade gold mine.
(Reporting by Tom Daly in BEIJING; additional reporting by David Stanway in SHANGHAI)