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Material hygiene: improving recycling of WEEE demonstrated on dishwashers

TitleMaterial hygiene: improving recycling of WEEE demonstrated on dishwashers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsJohansson J, Luttropp C
Journal TitleJournal of Cleaner Production
KeywordsDesign, ecodesign, Material hygiene, recycling
AbstractThere must be a change in attitude towards end-of-life products. The view that these products pose a liability must be changed. Secondary material is valuable as raw material. Thus, activities encouraging changes in opinion are important. Two major EU directives guide the recycling process; the Directive of End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) and the Directive of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Both focus on the input of the recycling system, not on what is coming out of the system. The WEEE Directive is the legislation on the European level that governs the handling and processing of these types of products. The WEEE Directive is not only aimed at stricter handling and reduction of hazardous materials but also encourages EU member states to support technical development in order to facilitate increased recycling. In order to properly address these issues a mind-set, material hygiene, has been introduced. The basic idea is to act, in every life cycle phase of the product, towards highest possible efficiency in recycling. The outcome of useful material is in focus. A study on dishwashers is made with copper outcome as target. The results are based on Swedish conditions but general conclusions can be made. Limited design efforts can raise the outcome of valuable materials, if the recycling process is organized in an optimal manner. A theoretical concept of disassembly structures is used to draw general conclusions on the case study. Increasing product recycling suitability is one side of the problem; another is increasing effectiveness of handling and processing of end-of-life products. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the concept of "material hygiene" and based on that demonstrate a method for grading structural properties in a recycling perspective. The findings presented in this paper are based on a field study in which a number of dishwashers were disassembled and analyzed.
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