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Global Urban Mining Market - Outlook and Forecast 2022-2027
The global urban mining market experienced a valuation of USD 18.18 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 38.09 billion by 2027, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.12% from 2022 to 2027. Urban mining refers to the process of recovering and reusing materials from landfills, encompassing buildings, infrastructure, and obsolete products. When products reach the end of their functional life, such as cars becoming obsolete, computers becoming outdated, or buildings becoming unsafe for use or redevelopment, their materials are typically disposed of in landfills. However, urban mining involves collecting waste, separating it, and subsequently recycling and refining processes to extract metals and minerals from the waste.
The rapid growth of industrial development and continuous innovation have led to increased generation of industrial waste, much of which ends up in landfills. Various solutions have been proposed by governmental and nongovernmental entities to recover valuable metals and materials from this waste to meet the growing demands of industries. The urban mining market aims to extract waste from landfills and reclaim non-renewable materials for recycling and reuse. Essentially, urban mining views waste generated by cities and urban environments as valuable resources, relying on urban stocks rather than geological reserves to meet manufacturing needs.
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USD 18.2 billion in 2020
Waste Type, Commodity Type, and Geography
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Modern mining techniques consume substantial amounts of water, exerting pressure on water supplies in areas already facing water scarcity. Furthermore, the water used in mining activities can contaminate nearby water bodies, posing significant threats to freshwater resources, vital food sources, and overall water security. In contrast, the urban mining market contributes to reducing the carbon footprint through recycling, which incurs lower environmental costs compared to traditional mining.
The global urban mining market is categorized into two main segments: waste type and commodities. The waste type segment is further divided into three primary categories: electronic and electrical waste, construction and demolition waste, and others. Among these segments, electronic and electrical waste represent one of the largest segments in urban mining.
Over the past few decades, the industrial sector has been a major contributor to carbon emissions. Traditional mining activities and industrial development have significantly contributed to these emissions, with industries like automotive and transportation being major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Landfills also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, as acidic reactions lead to the release of methane and CO2. Methane emissions from landfills can even result in fire accidents, further exacerbating greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the management and recycling of landfill waste are crucial in reducing the carbon footprint and driving the growth of the urban mining market.
The power generation industry is also focusing on reducing carbon emissions through sustainable development practices, particularly through the use of renewable energy sources. Solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric turbines require various circuit panels for electricity generation and transmission. Once these panels reach the end of their life cycle, they are recycled, and precious metals such as gold, silver, copper, palladium, and others are refined and reused in manufacturing new electric panels. These factors contribute to sustainable development while significantly propelling the growth of the global urban mining market during the forecast period.
To address the challenge of decomposing various industrial and electronic waste, governments are advocating for waste segregation at the source. Various companies have taken the initiative to separate waste generated during manufacturing activities. Additionally, the United Nations has highlighted the growing threat posed by electronic waste, including mobile phones, laptops, televisions, refrigerators, and electrical toys, to the environment and human health. These government measures have significantly contributed to the urban mining market and created opportunities for company growth.
In the United States, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates that solid wastes or recyclable materials must be stored in a manner that eliminates fire, health, and safety hazards, while also preventing spillage. The European Commission has proposed a new Batteries Regulation to ensure the sustainability and safety of batteries available in the EU market throughout their entire life cycle.
Emerging countries often face a shortage of innovative technology and technical knowledge in the e-waste recycling industry, making it financially unattractive to potential businesses and investors. For example, recovering rare earth materials from magnets requires either extensive manual labor or specialized technology. Companies without access to appropriate technology are likely to incur high labor expenses and rely on basic disassembly techniques that do not effectively recover valuable materials. Consequently, costs increase while output decreases, rendering potential business ventures financially unstable.
Factors such as the increasing recovery of metals, especially from highly complex products, may result in higher costs due to technical challenges, reduced economic viability, and a greater environmental burden associated with the necessary processes. These factors serve as constraints for the growth of the global urban mining market.
The market is segmented based on various factors, including waste type, commodity type, and geography.
Segmentation by Waste Type
Electronics & Electrical Waste
Construction & Demolition Waste
Segmentation by Commodity Type
Segmentation by Geography
North America – US, Canada
Europe – Germany, France, UK, Italy, Russia
APAC – China, Japan, India, South Korea
Rest of the World – Turkey, Mexico, Saudi Arabia
The global urban mining market is primarily driven by electronics and electrical waste, which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.65% during the forecast period. This market segment encompasses various types of e-waste such as printed circuit boards, laptops, mobile phones, household appliances, electric motors, and other constructions. The increasing demand for consumer electronics, fueled by rapid industrial development and a rising population, is expected to further drive the demand for urban mining in the e-waste segment. To reduce carbon footprint and promote sustainable development, governments and urban mining service providers are actively promoting e-waste recycling.
In terms of commodity type, the precious metals category holds the largest share in the global urban mining market and is projected to exceed USD 20.99 billion by 2027. Precious metals are extensively used in industries such as aerospace, medical, electronics, chemicals, catalysts, and others. With a significant rise in demand from these industries, the demand for precious metals is set to increase as well. The urban mining market provides a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional mining practices by recycling used precious metals. Precious metals are widely utilized in the exterior designs of cars, mobile phones, and other personal appliances.
Leading producers of precious metals include China, Australia, Russia, India, and the United States. Growing sectors such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, electronics, electrical, and automotive industries have contributed to increased demand for precious metals like rhodium, gold, silver, iridium, and palladium. Consequently, urban mining activities to extract precious metals are anticipated to rise, driving the growth of the urban mining market.
Europe currently dominates the global urban mining market and is expected to surpass USD 20.28 billion by 2027. The region comprises developed countries such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, which have implemented policies to attract investments in urban mining and recycling. Governments in these countries provide subsidies and incentives through fiscal and monetary policies. Rapid industrial development and innovation in the manufacturing sector, driven by the governments’ commitment to sustainable development, have also contributed to the growth of urban mining in Europe.
Moreover, Europe has witnessed significant increases in e-waste and construction waste recycling due to stringent environmental regulations, government subsidies, continuous innovation, population growth, increased disposable income, and higher usage of electrical and electronic devices. The availability of advanced technology for recycling and cost-effective extraction of metals and minerals further strengthens the European urban mining market, allowing it to maintain its dominance in the industry throughout the forecast period.
While Europe currently holds a strong position in the global market, other regions present significant potential for urban mining development. North America and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, in particular, are home to numerous developing countries with thriving industries that require substantial infrastructure support. Developed countries like the United States and Japan in these regions play a pivotal role in driving the urban mining market due to well-established policies and regulations. Additionally, governments in North America and APAC actively promote scrap metal and e-waste recycling by providing grants, subsidies, and loans to recycling companies, which will have a positive impact on the urban mining market.
The major players in the global urban mining market have established strategic partnerships with various industries and construction companies, as these companies play a significant role in waste generation activities. This provides the key players with a competitive advantage that enhances their market share. These companies have developed their waste collection and separation infrastructure, creating value for diverse industries. The growth of sustainable processes and initiatives poses challenges for all companies on a global scale. The demand for innovative and sustainable processes and urban mining services is driven by investments in research and development, technological advancements, and environmental and economic concerns.
Some notable players in the global market include Umicore (Belgium), Johnson Matthey (UK), Materion Corporation (US), Boliden Group (Sweden), and Sims Limited (Australia). These players have implemented strategies such as expansion, acquisitions, new product development, joint ventures, among others, to increase their revenues in the global urban mining market. Additionally, other prominent companies such as AET Environmental (US), Arch Enterprises (US), Dowa Eco-System (Japan), ECR World (US), and others have made significant investments in research and development to develop urban mining processes that cater to customer preferences. Therefore, these other prominent companies pose strong competition to the major players.
Key companies profiled in this report include Umicore, Johnson Matthey, Materion Corporation, Boliden Group, Sims Limited, AET Environmental, All Green Recycling, Apex Environmental Services Inc., Arch Enterprises, Inc., Clean Harbors, Inc., Dowa Eco-System, Ltd., ECR World, EnviroMetal Technologies Inc., Gannon & Scott, Heraeus Holding, HOBI International, Inc., M&K Recovery Group, Suez Group, Veolia, WM Intellectual Property Holding, L.L.C.
Key Questions Answered
What is the revenue generated by the global urban mining market?
The global urban mining market generated a revenue of USD 18.18 billion in 2021.
What is the projected market size of the global urban mining market by 2027?
The global urban mining market is projected to reach a market size of USD 38.09 billion by 2027.
What is the growth rate of the urban mining market?
The urban mining market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.12% from 2022 to 2027. The market is experiencing significant growth due to stringent emission regulations and the increasing population leading to higher waste generation in landfills.
Which region dominates the global urban mining market?
Europe dominates the global urban mining market, accounting for a revenue share of 51.00%. It is the largest urban mining market worldwide. Developed countries such as Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Russia in Europe possess well-established infrastructure and stable economies, which promote industrial development.
What are the key driving factors in the urban mining market?
The key driving factors in the urban mining market include the increasing awareness about recycling and urban mining, growing demand for sustainable development, and the impact of depleting natural resources.
Who are the key players in the global urban mining market?
The key players in the global urban mining market are Chevron Corporation, Dow, ExxonMobil Corporation, Shell PLC, and TotalEnergies.