By Adam Shine, Vice President of Sunnking
We’re living in a dynamic digital world. The global demand for electronics and the speed at which devices are replaced are rapidly increasing. In turn, electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream. There will be an estimated 49.8 million tons of global e-waste in 2018, with an average annual growth rate of 4-5%. The United States is the largest producing e-waste culprit. What’s in the streams is always changing and shifting since there are new innovations and more categories of electronic items than ever before. Electronic recyclers confront shifting streams with strategies that maximize revenue and meet sustainable certification standards. One strategy is to refurbish and reuse any salvageable tech.
At Sunnking, all material from consumers and businesses is inspected for reuse and that has helped us maintain a competitive edge. Some industry leaders predict resale prices will decrease year over year because of reductions in prices for new equipment and increases in volume on the market. This creates a notion that refurbish and reuse strategies may not have as much value in the future as they do today. The price of purchasing a new LED TV for example, has decreased substantially over the past five years. Some may argue that there are new items that continue to be expensive like the latest iPhone, but brand names play a key role in those examples. There haven’t been any earth-shattering innovations with cellphones as of late and they will eventually be replaced by a more desirable innovation we’ve yet to see. I agree with these predictions to an extent, but Sunnking has not seen a decrease in prices for our refurbished goods thus far. I don’t believe it will be as great of an issue as many suggest due to new types of electronics we’ll see in the future.
Another concern seen in the electronics processing industry is the weight of processed items to determine return revenue from recycled metals. Some experts have worried that smaller and lighter gadgets will cause this number to take a hit. However, families in the 80s and 90s families had one computer shared among them. This was typical for many other types of large consumer electronics at the time. Today, I personally have about ten to fifteen devices all on my own. There is continuously a wider variety of items for sale. So, while new tech weighs less, each person has more devices and that helps offset the lower weight of these devices.
It’s becoming increasingly important that recyclers recognize early in the process which devices are worth the time and monetary investment to refurbish to maximize revenue. In 2017, Sunnking sold around 81,000 assets We were able to increase our revenue generated from sales by becoming a value-added reseller, selling items that we’ve put more features into, resulting in a greater return on investment. We’re also taking advantage of new products entering the waste stream that have retained value. For example, we’ve had great success with refurbishing flat panel TVs and selling them online thanks to an investment in a spray foam packaging machine. Flat panel TVs are relatively new, and their presence marks a shift in e-waste streams. It would have been a huge opportunity we missed if we hadn’t decided to refurbish and resell them.
Sunnking was initially formed in 2000 as a reseller of electronic equipment. The combination of scrap metal experience with high tech sales channels created the model that we still use today. Ultimately the United States being a leader in technology will certainly produce more material with more resale value, and we look forward to new refurbishing and reuse opportunities to tap into regardless of the challenges shifting streams present.