Economy, Domestic Economy

The Wealth in Waste

The Wealth in WasteThe Wealth in Waste

Recycling goes far beyond separating your wet and dry waste —which the city’s municipal authorities have lately been propagating intensively. Scrap recycling industry is a sophisticated, capital-intensive industry that employs million of people throughout the world.

Public interest in recycling has increased dramatically over the past decade throughout the industrialized world. This interest has been driven by a variety of factors, including concerns about increasing waste generation and dwindling landfill capacity, air pollution from incineration, and a general appreciation of the need for environmental protection.

Data suggest that countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Germany recycle about 50% of their municipal waste. In the United States, in 2013 alone, more than 130 million metric tons of scrap metal, paper, plastic, glass, textiles, rubber, and electronics, valued at more than $80 billion, were manufactured into specification grade commodities by the scrap recycling industry and sold as valuable feedstock material to industrial consumers in the United States and in more than 160 countries around the world and contributed nearly $24 billion in export sales.

  The Young Recycling Industry

Scrap recycling is a young industry in Iran, with potential to grow much bigger. According to head of Iran Recycling Industries Union, Valiollah Gholami, Iran has as at its disposal the technical capabilities required for developing the high-tech recycling industry and turning into the recycling hub of the Middle East and Central Asia.

“For example, Iran currently imports and recycles a considerable share of Iraq’s car batteries,” Gholami said in an interview with Persian newspaper Forsat-e Emruz.

Observing that most countries provide incentives and tax rebates to recycling industries to compensate the high energy costs, he called for the government to provide energy and tax incentives to encourage private investments in the sector.

Oil and petrochemical waste, polymer, plastics, ferrous and non-ferrous metal, vehicles and plant machinery, batteries, electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), organic waste, paper and cellulose constitute the main categories of recyclable material.    

“Only some sectors such as the steel industry have been actively recycling, in large part because it is economically advantageous to do so,” pointed Gholami, adding that imposing regulations to support the recycling industries could go a long way in promoting the sector,” which has long been neglected.”

  Recycling E-Waste

Electronics recycling (e-waste recycling) has gained particular significance in recent years due to rapid changes in technology, resulting in a fast-growing surplus of electronic waste around the globe. An estimated 50 million tons of e-waste are produced each year, with the amount of e-waste production expected to rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade in some countries.

A number of electronics recycling units have so far been launched in Iran, according to Gholami, who noted that the increased rate of electronics production and the growing concerns for environmental harms highlight the need for developing the recycling industries.

A look at the mature economies and their recycling rate indicates that as the countries become more developed, the need for recycling becomes more and more evident. This is a simple logic which indicates the vast potential for growth in the recycling sector.