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Balancing the life cycle impacts of notebook computers: Taiwan's experience

TitleBalancing the life cycle impacts of notebook computers: Taiwan's experience
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsLu L-T, Wernick IK, Hsiao T-Y, Yu Y-H, Yang Y-M, Ma H-W
Journal TitleResources, Conservation and Recycling
KeywordsCost–benefit analysis, Life cycle assessment (LCA), Notebook computers, Recovery, recycling
AbstractWe analyze the economic incentive structure as well as the environmental implications of the current national policynext term for recycling notebook computers (NB's) in the nation of Taiwan. Using cost–benefit analysis and formal life cycle assessment (LCA) we critique the current program and recommend future improvements. The current previous termpolicynext term requires manufacturers to pay a recycling fee for each unit sold domestically. These payments are channeled to third party recycling agents as well as consumers that return used NB's. While sound in principle, the arrangement falls short of providing incentives for sustaining the domestic recycling infrastructure, scarcely covering operating costs and leaving little capital to develop new recycling technologies. The current program also fails to induce widespread consumer participation by relying on an economic incentive that compares poorly with the value obtainable from resale on the second-hand market. An environmental assessment of various end-of-life disposal options for NBs reveals that recycling for some components actually leads to greater negative environment impacts than the alternatives. Economic efficiency of the program was analyzed by integrating the life cycle assessment and the cost–benefit analysis. Our assessment suggests that a revised previous termpolicynext term should hold manufacturers directly responsible for the development of recycling technologies and encourage changes in the design phase of the commercial life cycle rather than stressing recovery and recycling. Because of Taiwan's premier position in global NB manufacturing, and in light of numerous international initiatives mandating previous termelectronic wastenext term recycling, national previous termpoliciesnext term should coordinate domestic manufacturing with foreign programs to reduce the environmental impact from NBs across the life cycle in nations around the globe.
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