E-wastes and a global value chain. A study on smartphone

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2019

61 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Objectives
2.1 Broad Objectives
2.2 Specific Objectives

3. Literature Review
E-Waste in Bangladesh
Current Situation of E-Waste in foreign countries
E-Waste Treatment Technology
Relationship of Sustainability in Smartphone Buying Pattern
Viability and Adaptive analysis of E-Waste Treatment Facilities
Strategic Analysis of Local Smartphone Brands

4. Methodology
4.1 Data Source
4.2 Access to Data

5. E-waste Overview

6. Industry Analysis: PESTEL

7. Industry Analysis: Porters Diamond Model

8. Global Value Chain
8.1 Raw Materials
8.2 Assembly
8.3 Marketing and Branding
8.4 Distribution, Sales and After Sales Services
8.5 Recycling

9. Strategic Plan
9.1 Assembly
9.2 Two-fold Branding
9.2.1 Cash Based Incentive
9.2.2 Consumer Awareness
9.2.3 Local Brands innovating to create a superior Buyer Value
9.3 The vision: Moving towards “Zero economy”



The Project Timeline

In-depth Interviews

Online/Offline Survey Questionnaire

Executive summary

Electronic waste (e-waste) are discarded electrical devices like Smartphones, Laptops, Monitors and other forms of consumer electronics. The government of Bangladesh is trying to impose strict measures to stop the meteoric rise of e-waste, which is projected to amount to 46.2 Lac tons by 2035, mobile handsets being one of the notable contributors. A staggering 135 million units of mobile devices were left unrecycled in 2010 alone. The primary groundwork of this research paper revolves around the Study on Smartphone generated E-wastes with the primary vision of turning this lethal pollutant into a competitive advantage.

For conducting this research, we analyzed how Smartphone carriers and brands across the world have effectively managed Smartphone generated E-wastes and also understand how that translated to building out a competitive advantage. We collected our primary data from Managers of Local and Global Smartphone brands, Local Retailers and Industry professionals in the Waste Management Industry.

The industry Analysis showed a movement towards the controlling of the present situation of E-waste through stringent policies and Government compliance. Technological breakthrough from innovating brands have fast-forwarded the route of the E-waste management strategy. The role of government is significant, and through the porter's diamond model, it is portrayed both as a catalyst and as a challenger. Although governments cannot create competitive industries, it can play an important role in encouraging and push companies to reach higher levels.

Triple Triangle Framework was used to analyze each of the components of the Global Value Chain. On the firm-level factors, the proposition of making Bangladesh shift towards a position of strategic advantage is the vision that should be integrated across the Smartphone and E-waste management companies alike. Our survey results indicate not just a lack of responsible dumping accountability on the part of the customers, but in the overall mismanagement as well. Within the past few years, a number of startups have emerged to strengthen the position of Bangladesh in the E-waste management industry. These have served as a catalyst to the Smartphone companies as they opened potential room of collaborative efforts.

Based on our research, we have developed an A2Z strategic model that will streamline a holistic value proposition for the complete management of Smartphone generated E-wastes. We have also identified a high degree of correlation of other E-wastes generated through the likes of Television, Laptop and such electronics, with the E-wastes generated from Smartphone.

The A2Z strategic model is a three-step guideline across the three core value chain of E-wastes: Assembly, Branding and Zero-Economy.

The essence of this strategy is to target parts of the value chain separately and design solutions keeping a sustainable competitive advantage in priority all the time. This model integrates all our previous suggested strategies into one whole model and can be replicated to all other electronics industry in Bangladesh.

Table of Figures

Figure 1 Informal sector recycling process in Dhaka

Figure 2 Calculation scheme for the respective contribution of each business unit to the purchase price

Figure 3 Purchasing Power Parity over the years for Bangladesh (Link to the source)

Figure 4 Buyer Value Creation through the Value Innovation framework

Figure 5 Industry Analysis through PESTEL framework

Figure 6 Industry Analysis through Porter's Diamond Model

Figure 7 Triple Triangle Framework Analysis of Global Value Chain: Raw Materials

Figure 8 Triple Triangle Framework Analysis of Global Value Chain: Assembly

Figure 9 Survey Data: Would you consider exchanging your old handsets on a discounted price knowing it gets cleanly recycled?

Figure 10 Survey Data: Would you consider purchasing Smartphone from a Local brand if it’s primary goal was to tackle the rising E-wastes out of Smartphone

Figure 11 Triple Triangle Framework Analysis of Global Value Chain: Marketing and Branding

Figure 12 Triple Triangle Framework Analysis of Global Value Chain: Sales & Distribution and After Sales Service

Figure 13 Survey Data: How do you usually dump/get rid of your old Smartphones?

Figure 14 Survey Data: What do you think is the major reason of the unstoppable rise of Smartphone E-waste?

Figure 15 Triple Triangle Framework Analysis of Global Value Chain: Recycling

Figure 16 The complex and informal stages of the current Inventorization process

Figure 17 The circular system of E-waste collection

Figure 18 What benefits can the Zero Economy model bring?

1. Introduction

Electronic waste (E-waste) is discarded electrical devices like Smartphones, Laptops, Monitors and other forms of consumer electronics. E-waste is rising substantially over the past few years and due to a lack of efficient controlling mechanism, it's continuing to pose a great risk to the environment. The government of Bangladesh is trying to impose strict measures to stop the meteoric rise of E-waste, which is projected to amount to 46.2 Lac tons by 2035, mobile handsets being one of the notable contributors. A staggering 135 million units of mobile devices were left unrecycled in 2010 alone. Every year around 40 Million mobile phones are entering the market, and in 2-3 years, they will turn in to E-waste. (Parvez, 2019) This is becoming a fair cause of concern for Bangladesh on top of the growing issue of solid waste. While managing the growing pile of E-waste can become an industry, local smartphone brands need to step up and focus on E-waste as a means to develop a competitive advantage.

2. Objectives

The primary groundwork of this research paper revolves around the Study on Smartphone generated E-wastes with the primary vision of turning this lethal pollutant into a competitive advantage.

2.1 Broad Objectives

- To analyze the current situation of Smartphone generated E-wastes and the prospects of the integrated components of the Global Value Chain
- To develop a strategic framework to theorize a systematic approach of managing the rising pile of E-wastes

2.2 Specific Objectives

- To study whether Smartphone brands of Bangladesh can imitate the best global practices or work towards localizing the system
- To discuss the activities of the Global and Local Smartphone retailing brands operating Bangladesh in terms of E-waste management
- To develop a strategic framework and a detailed plan that will cover all the Value Chain touchpoints
- To find areas where the local smartphone brands can reestablish their relevance and create a competitive advantage in the market through effective management of E-waste

3. Literature Review

E-Waste in Bangladesh

Electronic waste stands as one of the fastest-growing pollution problems in the world and poses serious risks to the environment and to any living creatures close to the landfill vicinity. However, such predicament comes with a silver lining in the form of business opportunity: treating E-Waste to extract valuable metals and reusing them in the manufacturing of new electronic devices. The exponentially growing volume of E-waste presents an opportunity for a market that is potentially valued at billions.

Taking a look at the current situation from a study conducted by Mohammad Nazrul Islam where he found over 83% of child workers being exposed to toxic substances and living with long term illnesses from a very early age. (Islam, 2016) According to a survey conducted by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO), at least fifty thousand children workers are currently entailed with non-formal collection and recycling of E-waste. Toxics E-waste from mobile handsets has accumulated over 10,000 metric tons over the last twenty-one years (up to 2016). A staggering 135 million units of mobile devices were unrecycled in 2010 alone. The major problem, as indicated by many activists in this arena, is a lack of awareness among the general mass.

The knowledge prevalent in this untapped local industry is massive. This report by Alam and Bahauddin talks about the E-waste management system in Bangladesh which currently consists of small fragmented players operating mostly in the informal economy. The industry faces a number of drawbacks such as difficulty in inventorization, unhealthy conditions of informal recycling, inadequate legislation and policy, poor awareness and reluctance on part of the corporate to address the critical issues. (Alam & Bahauddin, 2015) This article takes a holistic approach to understand the condition of E-waste globally and in Bangladesh, and also highlighting the fact that the greatest challenge for Bangladesh lies in creating awareness among the general public and policymakers. Where it has become economically unviable for developed countries to process E-waste due to the rising cost of manpower, the developed economies have found it convenient to export the waste to developing countries (where the labor cost is comparatively low and the environmental laws are not enforced so strictly). It is comparatively much cheaper to recycle waste in developing economies; a glaring example: the cost of breaking down and recycling waste in Nigeria is 26 times cheaper than in the US. The processes used in developing countries are economically viable but ethically and morally questionable. The extraction of metals in nonformal units is carried out by dipping printed circuit board (PCBs) in the acidic/alkaline solutions and heating/burning of PCB. These processes are harmful to the workers and to the environment. Although it is a prevailing practice of reusing old electronic devices, particularly widely done in developing countries, the scope of reuse is mostly limited to the condition those devices have been collected in. According to Green Peace International, around 25 to 75 per cent of second-hand electrical and electronic equipment imported into Africa arrived in an unusable condition, beyond repair. The paper then displays some figures of the growing volume of E-waste in Africa, South Asia and Bangladesh. Although we have taken the insight that the growth is undoubtedly exponential, we find the accuracy of the prediction made by Mahbub Alam and Khalid Md. Bahauddin in 2015 to be solid when compared to that of 2018 figures. The paper further explores the gaps in the legal system of Bangladesh regarding E-waste. Bangladesh is a signatory to the Basel Convention prohibiting trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste. Import of any kind of waste requires government permission. However, there is no comprehensive E-waste policy, although it is briefly mentioned just as an action item in the country‘s ICT policy. (Alam & Bahauddin, 2015)

Shahriar Hossain based his report on field surveys to establish the perception, local dealers, importers and retailers had regarding E-waste. The author further calculates an estimate of E-waste generated locally based on a few assumptions: number of devices sold nationally, the average lifespan of devices and metal composition of such devices. The paper also portrays the dense areas where E-waste concentration in landfills are the highest: Islampur, Kamrangirchar, Gingira, Mirpur (11, 12) and Mohammadpur. (Hossain, 2010) This report seemingly has inspired Mahbub Alam and Khalid Md. Bahauddin into developing their own report that was published in 2015. The findings here have limited value as many economic factors have changed significantly since the report has been published almost a decade ago.

A similar approach has been taken by Arif Reza with a focus on the flow of waste and process followed in the informal sector. The process followed in developing economies is very labor-intensive owing much to the low labor costs. On average 70-80% of the collected old electronics can be salvaged and sold to second hand and refurbished shops at a lucrative markup. The entire flow starts from households from where small scrap dealers collect and later sell to other larger purchasing agents with large resource capabilities to segregate and process the E-waste. At each step, every effort is made to refurbish and fix the device/ part of a device at the lowest cost possible in order to resell to interested buyers.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1 Informal sector recycling process in Dhaka (Yousuf & Reza, 2011)

Items that do not make this cut is taken apart manually or incinerated with machines where necessary. The discharging of scraps up to 50% of the purchased quantity suggests that their recycling process is simple and less efficient. They have reported only the use of hammers, screwdrivers and chisels in recycling, which indicates their low level of operational efficiency.(Yousuf & Reza, 2011) An average shop retailing such second-hand products operate at a profit of around 30%. The shop owners claimed that they can reuse 100% of the electronic products given proper equipment and the rest of the recovered items such as copper, iron, plastic and cable wires are sold as scrap. Almost everyone in the supply chain seemed to have the perception that recycling E-waste is safe and contains no toxic materials.

C. Muntaha, Q. San and M.M. Hossain made an estimation of the metal components found in mobile phones with data derived from other papers. From every ton of mobile waste, an average of 0.31kg of gold, 0.094kg of lead, 0.094kg of platinum, 145.15kg of Aluminum 190.51kg of copper can be extracted. (San, Muntaha, & Hossain, 2016) The figures are higher in 2018 as the more materials are required to manufacture bigger phones.

The report prepared by the Environment and Social Development Organization reveals that approximately fifty thousand children are involved in the collection and recycling process here in Bangladesh. (Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO, 2012) Every year, almost 15% of those children workers die as a result of E-waste recycling, with more than 83% of them are forced to live with long term illness due to exposure to toxic substances. Bangladesh in 2012 generated almost one-tenth of the global E-waste generation and a meagre 3% were reported to be recycled. The rest were dumped in landfills. The report then lays out several guidelines formulated from existing systems in the developing and developed economies. Best management practices in developing countries include collection and segregation, product reuse and disposal, while, in developed countries, it covers remarketing, reusing and recycling of E-waste. The first level of E-waste management included decontamination, dismantling and segregation. The second level included shredding and four special treatment processes like electromagnetic separation, eddy current separation, CRT breaking and treatment and density separation using water. The third level treatment included recovery of metals and disposal of hazardous E-Waste fractions including plastics with flame retardants, CFCs, capacitors, Mercury, lead and other items. Poor handling of E-waste poses serious health hazards: breathing cadmium can severely damage lungs and cause death; inhaling vapour chromium can damage vital organs and is carcinogenic; mercury causes brain damage and can kill the fetus and pass through breast milk. This means that unless this sector of E-waste is formalized and enforced legally, children will continue to be victims of labor and the toxic operating environment will continue to severely hamper their productive potential for the rest of their lives. The paper then sets out guidelines for all the stakeholder involved in the entire E-waste management process: manufacturers, importers, assemblers, refurbishers, recycler, consumers, educational institutes, transporters and finally government organizations.

Current Situation of E-Waste in foreign countries

The two authors of this report explore and compare E-waste between developing and developed countries. The paper is mostly made up of other literature reviews on relevant topics. The author finds that E-waste in developed countries is purpose-built recycling plants in a controlled manner. On another hand in developing countries, there is no such controls facility and almost recycling is carrying by hand scraping in small family yards by children (Awasthi, Li, & Zeng, 2016). The developing economies recycle through primitive means including open burning to extract metals, acid leaching for precious metals at the family level workshop.

Nishant Shirodkar and Dr Ravi Terkar point out that developing countries face a greater risk of harm from E-waste due to illegal imports, increased local E-waste generation and a lack of enforceable legal framework (Shirodkar & Terkar, 2016). Most of the E-waste in India is collected by the informal recyclers who use elementary ways of processing: ultimately causing more harm to the surrounding environment. The paper delves into the current situation of E-waste management in India and attempts to formulate a management model for E-waste transformation. The model: “Stepped recycling” incorporates financial dependency of the different stakeholders to establish an interdependent system of recycling: attempting to make it profitable to every related stakeholder. This paper also highlights the importance of a legal framework that is needed to establish such a project.

Peeranart Kiddee, Ravi Naidu & Ming H. Wong present an overview of the toxic components present in E-waste along with its negative impacts. Several tools including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Material Flow Analysis (MFA), Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) have been developed to manage E-wastes especially in developed countries(Peeranart Kiddee). They formulated that the key to success in any E-waste management requires many tools and frameworks to be utilized, no one tool is ever successful. (Kiddee, Naidu, & Wong, 2013)

The report: “The Generation, Composition, Collection, Treatment and Disposal System, and Impact of E-Waste” portrays the inherent environmental dangers developing nations face due to their lack of legal structure, investment and human resources. The report then explains the best practices followed worldwide and the degree of success for each of these models. (Mmereki, Li, Baldwin, & Hong, 2015) The traditional disposal system of the Developed and Developing country have been simply defined in this report:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

A study by Moletsane & Zuva on the management of E-waste generated from Mobile Phones in African country revealed a glaring lack of dependency on traditional recycling processes that do more harm than good. There is a severe lack of awareness towards this growing problem, and it has been coupled with a shortage of recycling workers and necessary regulations. (Moletsane & Zuva, 2018)

E-Waste Treatment Technology

In the book, “Electronic Waste Management and Treatment Technology”, Majeti Narasimha Vara and Prasad Meththika Vithanage explain in detail the various treatment processes of E-waste that extracts precious metals. Use of biotechnology to extract valuable metals using biological systems has been a prevailing method followed unknowingly as early as 23AD(Vara Prasad & Vithanage, 2019). Recycling of E-waste involves three steps: pretreatment, separation, and refining and purification. Pretreatment includes manual or automatic disassembly of the various components of the E-waste.(Li, He, & Zeng, 2017) During the separation process, shredding, crushing, pulverizing, and then screening is practiced using cutters such as rotary cutting shredders(Vara Prasad & Vithanage, 2019). The use of genetically modified strains in bioleaching has a history of promising results of extracting metals.

Relationship of Sustainability in Smartphone Buying Pattern

Tu, Zhang and Huang studied the key factors of Taiwanese Consumers’ smartphone buying decision. They also studied the association of the key factors (age, income, gender, education level and occupation) with the purchase consideration of sustainability practices of smartphone companies. (Tu, Zhang, & Huang, 2018) “Brand advantage” and “recognition” were identified as primary purchase motivators in most situations. The brand advantage is the perceived strength of a brand in comparison to other smartphone brands. Recognition is a heartfelt preference for a specific brand. However, “perceived price” was deemed an important factor for lower-income groups. “Service quality” and “usage period” carried the lowest purchase inducement in buying situations. In terms of purchase consideration based on sustainability practices, only gender and income level created a shift of momentum. Males were identified to be environmentally knowledgeable however, women turned out to be ecologically conscious and made more eco-friendly purchases. A similar shift of positivity was observed among different income groups as sustainable practices often resulted in increased savings.

Mertcan Tascioglu discussed in his paper how consumers’ perceptions work towards sustainable social and environmental practices, and the effect it has on the supply chain. (Tascioglu, 2014) Mertcan studied data from two sets of the country (one individualistic and the other was a collectivistic one) to identify the impact of cultural context. According to the finding, environmental sustainability or social sustainability practices is most effective when coupled with a low-price strategy. The results also show that high-price setting has quite a negative impact on consumer satisfaction, most notably in the collectivist country. Although sustainable products have a positive correlation when it came to purchasing decision, findings show that it’s most successful with the right pricing strategy. This study concludes that adopting sustainable practice will require a great deal on the managers part to ensure the pricing strategy is balanced.

This empirical study by Kim and Lee analyzed the relation between customer perception and their participation in sustainable supply chain management. (Kim & Lee, 2018) When customers had a positive perception of the supply chain of a smartphone brand, it had a positive impact on the customer’s connection with the brand and increased reliability as well. The study also showed an interesting phenomenon when it comes to the direct involvement of the customer to the supply chain. Whether it is the customers returning their old smartphones for a discount, or simply throwing their old devices at the E-waste garbage, the involvement acts as an efficacious motivator in their purchase decisions that even creates a willingness to pay the premium. The research suggests companies to continuously look for ways to integrate sustainable practices throughout the supply chain. Since consumers direct involvement with the sustainable supply chain of the company creates an indirect value-added service, smartphone companies should try to affiliate such practices within their marketing activities.

Viability and Adaptive analysis of E-Waste Treatment Facilities

This report by Dr Green covers in-detail of the rising pile of hazardous wastes in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India and provides recommendations and possible next steps for the future. (Green, 2010) E-Waste is a serious problem in Bangladesh currently. Rapid industrialization coupled with one of the fastest developments has resulted in an unending mass of hazardous wastes, with E-waste topping the charts. The situation is equally concerning in the other three countries, especially India. Despite India’s quick movement to innovate smart ways of E-waste management it still lacks any form of inventory for E-waste. This has also caused a hindrance to set up large scale recycling facilities. Again, management of E-waste always carries health risk to the operating workers because of the solid materials present inside. There is an increasing movement towards developing a rigid health and safety manual during the dismantling of E-waste.

While the growing pile of E-waste needs quick management before it gets out of control, there has been plenty of studies on the financial feasibility of such recycling facilities. Blaser and Schluep conducted similar research to understand whether a manual E-waste treatment facility in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania was financially feasible. (Blaser & Schluep, 2012) At a throughput rate of ~25 Trillion per year, the facility can actually be a profitable business. However, due to the limitation of the research, the impact of future innovation in this sector and changing competitive landscape couldn’t be included in the study. A comprehensive framework has to be ensured for the refurbishment business to be profitable. An additional flexible income stream, favourable legislation standards, allowing the smooth interaction of the recyclers with the global market in order to derive the minimum cost of operations, were identified as areas that are needed to ensure high efficiency of this treatment facility.

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Figure 2 Calculation scheme for the respective contribution of each business unit to the purchase price (Green, 2010)

Patil and Sanjeev discussed on the Techno-Economic feasibility of recycling E-waste in order to recover precious metals in their study. (Patil & Patil, 2015) It is difficult to manage the growing mass of E-waste in less developed countries due to a lack of efficient technology. Recovery of precious metal contents is a profitable venture to bask in. But there is a greater degree of risk associated as plenty of toxic elements and gases may come out of these facilities. Economically, recycling E-waste has been found to be very profitable in all sectors levels (small to large). Internal rate of return from the projects was found to be close to 50%. Aqua-Regia process is an environmentally friendly process that makes the recycling of E-waste like PCB (printed circuit boards), a very promising business scope.

Strategic Analysis of Local Smartphone Brands

Local Smartphone brands will be our primary focus to analyze whether the addition of being identified as a sustainable brand will play as a competitive advantage. On this study, Naeem discusses the current marketing strategy of Walton. (Naeem, 2015) Walton has positioned itself as a customer and eco-friendly company. Its main target audience is the middle-income population, which is the key factor of their economic pricing strategy. In a price-sensitive market like Bangladesh, Walton has gradually progressed against the challenges from global giants. While favourable government policy can help Walton to expand its market to a wider target group even outside the country, there is still a lack of recognition of the company and a distinct absence of superior brand advantage. While Mahmud discusses the strategic brand planning of Symphony Mobile, second to Samsung in terms of revenue from smartphone sales. (Mahmud, 2017) Symphony cost-effective smartphone has allowed it to dominate the Bangladesh market for quite some time now. Symphony is backed with a strong R&D department that takes a holistic approach with a paralleled focus on mobile application and accessories. Symphony has been consistent with its value-innovation strategy. It was the only smartphone brand to provide 1.3 megapixels of display camera for less than 1000 BDT. Similar to Walton, Symphony is losing its edge on the market with brands like Huawei, Oppo and even Samsung starting to penetrate on their price point, and consequently driving customers away.

4. Methodology

For conducting this research, we analyzed how Smartphone carriers d brands across the world have effectively managed Smartphone generated E-wastes and also understand how that translated to building out a competitive advantage. We collected our primary data from Local companies like Walton, Tecno and Symphony, who will be the leading representative for the local smartphone brands. While representatives from Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi was researched to understand the overall situation and learning how their future plan can work to tackle this ensuing crisis. We also researched E-waste management companies like Garbageman, Azizu Trading and Co among others to understand the forward linkage collaboration of the Smartphone brands when it came to E-wastes. We understand that recycling E-waste alone can never tackle its enormous growth, so we must focus equally on the subsequent alternatives of reusing and reducing.

4.1 Data Source

For primary data collection, in-depth interview was our primary route. Technical specialists, Marketing and HR managers from the Smartphone Industry were primarily researched from the Smartphone Companies. We also prepared a survey to understand the buying preferences of Smartphone consumers and analyzing the different aspects that affect the decision-making process. We collected data of 48 respondents on a judgmental sampling basis, through online and offline methods. We will also conduct semi-structured interview to understand the landfill management of these E-wastes.

4.2 Access to Data

We have collected contacts being in touch with a few of our seniors who have been working in this industry for a large period of time. We covered a lot of the groundwork and got first-hand access to primary data from their network which are relevant to our research.

For our secondary data, we drafted a literature review with 20 research reports mostly from Scopus-cited journals. We conducted secondary research on metal composition coming from the unit volume of E-wastes.

5. E-waste Overview

E-waste is one of the most uncontrollable forms of waste in the modern world. Almost a complete lack of combat mechanisms has pushed Bangladesh to the edge, and it is definitely a dire need to control this vicious pollutant. Reduce-Recycle-Reuse is the generic model to fight any form of wastes. However, under facilitated institutions and overall lack of awareness hinders any form of progress in controlling this situation.

The government of Bangladesh drafted regulations about seven years back to prevent the ever-rising quantities of Hazardous materials, which were directly being sent to landfill. The general contributors of E-waste include Television, Air conditioner, Computer, Smartphones, Light bulb, Refrigerator, and Electric Fans. These electronics contain a certain amount of precious metals such as platinum, gold, silver, iron, copper and some other heavy metals. They also contain mercury and lead - two of the most hazardous metals to human health.

According to a recent study by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), it was established that Bangladesh produces around 400,000 metric tons of E-waste each year. A study - titled “Assessment of Generation of E-waste, its Impacts on the Environment and Resource Recovery Potential in Bangladesh” analyzed the production of E-waste, which has been rising at the alarming rate of 20% per annum and it’s expected to reach 462,000 tons per year by 2035, based on the current trend. The most shocking result of the study was the fact that only 3% of the total generated E-waste is being sent for recycling. (Amin, 2018)

Burning it in a pit under the open sky is the most common form of E-waste management so far, but this also releases toxic substances into the ecosystem and also prevents valuable metal extraction from the waste materials.

6. Industry Analysis: PESTEL

Political Factors: The management of E-waste is no more under the jurisdiction of private companies only. The increasing and almost uncontrollable influx of E-wastes in the environment is starting to pose a very serious risk. In a recent interview with the Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar, the confirmation of an E-waste management policy was quoted. The strict imposition will result in a two-fold improvement to the present situation. Firstly, stringent compliance laws on private companies would result in sustainable production dispositions. And its ripple effect would aim to develop conscious citizens so they can play a direct role in a streamlined collection and dumping mechanism of the E-wastes. Bangladesh Government is now trying to ensure a holistic involvement of the Union Parishads along with the City corporations and municipalities. The entry barrier in the E-waste management market is quite low at this moment. Deregulation and tax cuts have paved the entry for a lot of startups in this market. (Tribune Desk, 2019)

Economic Factors: The growth of Bangladesh’s economy in recent years have been exemplary. According to IMF, Bangladesh has the second-fastest-growing country in the world. (Byron, 2019) One of the most substantial change was in the Purchasing power parity which doubled in the space of six years. This was one of the key factors that exploded the consumption of Smartphones. Before the economic boom, Smartphones had an average life cycle of 36-48, according to EDISON group’s Senior Marketing Manager, Shahriyar Huda. From 2013, there was a considerable change in Smartphone consumption behavior. The increase of Purchasing Power created an even larger market for Smartphone brands as the devices started to get more affordable and accessible. The positive upturn of the economy affected the local companies as well. Symphony quickly became the top smartphone brand in the country which was unprecedented for a local company with such limited experience in the market. The decreasing life cycle of the Smartphones coupled with a user base largely unaware of the E-waste situation is two key factors of the continuous stream of E-wastes. Globally, waste management market was valued at $330.6 Billion in 2017 and it's expected to reach $530 Billion by 2025. Tapping to the E-waste management category can only not solve the crises of environment, but create a profitable opportunity to tap-in. (Chinchane & Sumant, 2019)


Excerpt out of 61 pages


E-wastes and a global value chain. A study on smartphone
University of Dhaka
Business Strategy
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
E-waste, Smartphone, pollutant, competitive advantage, recycle, E-waste recycle, Smartphone recycle, E-waste Industry, Bangladesh, Rising E-waste
Quote paper
Rasib Afridi (Author), 2019, E-wastes and a global value chain. A study on smartphone, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/504145


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