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Modelling of existing e-waste collection systems in China, a case study based on household surveys in the Taizhou prefecture

TitleModelling of existing e-waste collection systems in China, a case study based on household surveys in the Taizhou prefecture
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsGeering AC
Academic DepartmentDepartment of Environmental and Geomatic Engineering / Technology & Society Lab
UniversitySwiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) / Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa)
CityZurich / St.Gallen Switzerland
Thesis TypeMaster Thesis

Electrical and electronic waste (or e-waste for short) is one of the fastest growing waste streams in China due to increasing domestic amounts and imports. The collection, processing and recycling of e-waste is actually dominated by a well-established informal recycling sector. This results in serious damages to environment and human health, since ewaste contains both valuable as well as hazardous substances. Formal recycling pilot programs of the Chinese government have failed up to now, not being able to compete with the informal sector, notably in the collection of the e-waste. Therefore, it is important to learn more about the upcoming quantities of e-waste and the disposal behaviour at the householdlevel.This is the purpose of this study, based on surveys carried out in high income urban households of the Taizhou prefecture. Informal collection and storage were identified as main disposal channels for these households. Future stock and e-waste flow were simulated over time for the 24 different kinds of electrical and electronic appliances found in the studied households. Three scenarios were defined to assess the possible range of resulting e-waste flows. The calculated value of 4 kg per inhabitant de facto arising for recycling is comparable to average collection amounts of public authorities in Europe. An increase to 9-11 kg was estimated for the year 2060. The five main appliance types, refrigerator, washing machine, air conditioner, TV and PC, already included in non-implemented Chinese legal measures, were assessed to account for more than 50% of the total e-waste. In addition, the electroscooter and appliances with high content of precious metals were identified as appliances which would be particularly rewarding for formal recycling. By including households of lower social strata in the model and taking into account population dynamics, future amounts of e-waste could be prognosticated, helping to set up formal e-waste management programs.

Geering_2007_ETHZ-Empa.pdf2.52 MB
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