Towards Sustainability Assessment of Recycling Systems: From Evaluation of Home Appliance Recycling in Japan to International Comparison

Event: ISIE 2015, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK; July 7th to 10th

In this study, a methodologies and a case analysis of sustainability of WEEE recycling systems (e.g. Washing machines, Refrigerators, Air conditioners and Televisions) was developed based on the case of Japan’s home appliances recycling system. In addition, to enable comparative analysis, we have conducted field surveys in Taiwan and India and tried to apply similar methodologies to enable international comparison of sustainability assessment of recycling systems.

Life cycle based methodology was developed for the assessment considering all the phases namely; collection, primary and secondary transportation, pre-processing (dismantling), recycling and material recovery. Net greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and net resource savings were quantified as the key indicators to assess the major environmental impacts while green jobs creation and income based community well-being was quantified to assess the socio-economic attributes of WEEE recycling.

The results revealed that it is possible to prevent more than 50% of GHG emissions and 55-80% of abiotic resource consumption with respect to all kind WEEE recycling that would otherwise occur through the equivalent amount of materials production from conventional processes. Further, 165 employment opportunities have been created and annual income of 686 million Japanese yen can be generated due to handling and managing of 700,000 units of WEEE.

Also, the paper will present the case study results for Taiwan and India by using a similar methodologies developed for Japan's case and try to examine a possible approach for international comparative analysis towards establishment of sustainability assessment of domestic and international recycling of WEEE