SK Ecoplant, the green business unit of SK Group [210980:KS], has bought a 100% stake in Singapore-based electronic waste (e-waste) disposal and recycling firm TES Envirocorp (TES) with USD1bn, as reported by the Korea Economic Daily on February 21. The transaction will expand the South Korean company’s waste treatment business beyond incineration and landfills. Precisely, TES operates 43 facilities globally that extract rare metals from discarded electronics. TES claimed that it has benefited from the increasing concerns over contamination from landfills, legislations that stipulate the recycling obligations of producers, and the growing value of e-waste.
Only 17.4% of the 54m tons of e-waste produced worldwide in 2020 were recycled, threatening public health as the majority was landfilled or burnt. Under South Korea’s laws of e-waste management and disposal, electronics manufacturers are obliged to collect consumers’ used home appliances when they purchase new ones. Besides, these companies are required to recycle the used appliances by themselves, outsource the job to commercial recycling firms like SK Ecoplant, or join the Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) and pay for the recycling. The Korea Environment and Resource Corporation (ENVICO) serves as the watchdog of this recycling system. Industry tracker Allied Market Research forecasted that the global e-waste market could reach USD144bn by 2028 from USD50bn in 2020.