Companies’ Efforts Towards Reduction, Reuse, Recycling And Recovery (4Rs) Of E-waste
Free (open access)
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B. Krumay, R. Brandtweiner
The e-waste pile is constantly increasing, 41.8 million tons e-waste was generated in 2014 and prognosis shows there will be further increases. On one hand, technological reasons for discarding electronic devices, such as life cycles of products is an explanation for e-waste. However, non-technological reasons like lifestyle-indicated rebuying or psychological obsolescence lead in addition to more and more replacement of electronic devices – especially mobile devices – before they have reached their end-of-life. Furthermore, products that are designed with short life spans with the intention of generating frequent repurchases (planned obsolescence) are supplementary drivers for the increase of the e-waste pile. Since companies nowadays depend highly on the usage of computers, they of course contribute to the e-waste generated by private users. In this paper, however, we specifically focus on companies’ approach towards reducing, reusing, recycling and recovery (4Rs) of e-waste. Based on interviews with managers, responsible for companies’ e-waste handling, we identify different approaches towards these 4Rs. As a result, we see that companies’ approaches towards reduction of e-waste are mainly targeting towards prolonging the life spans of computers, driven by costs evolving from replacement. Reuse, however, is an issue which is shifted to partners and experts outside the companies. The same is true for recycling and refurbishment. We identified different categories of ICT products, which are replaced more likely before reaching end-of-life, in particular smartphones. Concerning peripheral ICT hardware (printers, projectors), other triggers, e.g. energy efficiency of newer devices or new technologies, dominate the reasons for replacement. Based on the so-gained insights, we depict the results in a matrix of the current approaches towards 4Rs of e-waste in business.
e-waste, 4Rs, reduce, reuse, recycling, recovery, life span