Sims Recycling Solutions sees opportunity in GCC with electronic waste disposal

Electronic waste is the fastest growing segment of the waste stream across the world. Sims Recycling Solutions, a global processor of electronic waste, says it’s particularly true in GCC nations, where Internet access and usage is increasing exponentially every year.

“E-waste can comprise of as much as 8 percent of the municipal solid waste stream in rich nations, such as those in GCC,” said Stephen Phelan, managing director, Middle East, for SRS. “I have lived in the UAE for the past 15 years and have seen how people here love to be the first to purchase the latest model.”

He notes that UAE customers are quick to stay up to date with the latest technology. The company says that the average lifespan of a mobile phone may be up to 18 months globally, but in the UAE it is approximately 6 months.

“It is the same with tablets, laptops, televisions and household appliances. As consumers continue to purchase the latest gadgets and innovations, we are left with a stockpile of old products gathering dust and finally being discarded,” Phelan said. “The challenge is to educate the consumer about the hazards contained in these devices if dumped irresponsibly and encourage them to recycle these older products they no longer have use for.”

That’s where companies like SRS come in. The firm collects discarded electronics for large companies, such as mobile network providers or phone and computer manufacturers, and ensures they are recycled and kept from landfills.

In many countries, laws have been enacted against disposal of electronic devices. Mobile phones, TVs and computers can contain materials that are harmful to the environment.

“Right now the Middle East has no comprehensive legislation or rules governing e-waste management, however, I would anticipate that it is only a matter of time before we have e-scrap legislation in the region similar to those in Europe. Already we have seen initiatives to divert e-scrap from landfills in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah over the past couple of years. The only viable methods to stem the e-scrap tide would include government regulation, electronics industry initiatives and consumer awareness,” he said.

All electronics contain recyclable parts: metals, glass, electronic components, precious metals and other materials. Sims Recycling Solutions operates in 20 countries across the globe.