Highlights from the report include:
• Silver recycling is projected to decline to 178.0 Moz (5,536t) by 2017. This is 14% lower than the 2011 peak, as growth is only expected to average 3% a year, even if prices rally to over $20. This outlook is based on further losses in photographic scrap, a depleted pool of near-market silverware and a limited response from most industrial end-uses.
• The study found that scrap from industrial sources is the largest segment, accounting for around half the total last year. A key finding was the low level of recovery from the vast majority of end-uses, as highly fragmented ownership and low silver contents often make recovery uneconomic. The main exception is the substantial and growing volumes coming from ethylene oxide (EO) catalysts.
• Silverware is the second biggest source of silver scrap supply, with an 18% share of the 2014 total. This large slice was mainly ascribed to a sizable pool of product and a comparatively high value per piece. By contrast, silver jewelry recycling is modest, despite higher consumption today, as consumers appear to be content to hold on to a still fashionable metal and resale is less valuable.
• The report notes that photographic scrap remains in marked structural decline as a lagged result of the digitally-led fall in its fabrication since a peak in the late 1990s. However, still sizable volumes of recycling of old x-rays helped this sector achieve 16% of the 2014 scrap total.
• The West, in particular North America, dominates recycling today, with 53% of last year’s total. Chinese scrap was, however, noted to be growing fast, with its share on target for almost 20% by 2017, largely as a result of gains in industrial recycling.
• The report isolates four main drivers of silver recycling: the silver price; the scale of a products’ stocks; the degree to which ownership is fragmented and, lastly, environmental legislation in conjunction with its enforcement and voluntary compliance.
The report can be downloaded free of charge at:
Silver Scrap: The Forgotten Fundamental Report