Extending product lifetimes through WEEE reuse and repair: opportunities and challenges in the UK

Cole, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-5681-827X, Cooper, T. ORCID: 0000-0001-8623-2918 and Gnanapragasam, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-8777-4847, 2016. Extending product lifetimes through WEEE reuse and repair: opportunities and challenges in the UK. In: Electronics Goes Green 2016+ Conference, Berlin, Germany, 7-9 September 2016.

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Discarded electrical and electronic equipment is a rapidly growing waste stream which has increased in part be-cause advances in technology have contributed to shorter product lifetimes [1],[2]. As such, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) has received increasing attention from policy makers. Previous research has re-vealed the large proportion of end-of-life consumer electronics disposed of through residual waste collections and destined for landfill disposal or incineration [3],[4]. This represents a missed opportunity for extending their lifetime by facilitating recovery for repair or reuse, which would be preferable in the context of their high levels of embodied carbon [5] and the valuable materials they contain.
This paper outlines the current policy context following recently updated WEEE Regulations and explores the current routes for end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment in the UK and opportunities for product life ex-tension through reuse of discarded items. Following a literature review, a series of semi-structured interviews were undertaken with policy makers, producer responsibility organisations, third sector organisations, waste collection authorities and waste management companies.
The paper reports the findings from this research, which aimed to determine whether the current collection sys-tem for end-of-life equipment in the UK adequately encourages increased repair and reuse in line with the UK Government’s waste reduction programme [6], or whether there is an excessive focus on recycling. An analysis of the findings is used to discuss whether the UK policy framework is adequate to embed legislative require-ments and improve current practices and whether the current system promotes awareness and understanding by householders sufficient to encourage behaviour change.

Item Type: Conference contribution
Creators: Cole, C., Cooper, T. and Gnanapragasam, A.
Date: September 2016
Divisions: Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 23 Sep 2016 15:09
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 14:06
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28620

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