Ensuring best E-waste recycling practices in developed countries: an Australian example

Pablo Ribeiro Dias, Andréa Moura Bernardes, Md Huda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The waste electrical and electronic equipment (e-waste) management is one of the great challenges faced in the twenty-first century due to the steep e-waste increase worldwide and their potential to be both a source of valuable materials and a hazardous source of contamination. In this study, the management of e-waste is discussed having the Australian recycling scheme as an example. The investigation on the actual recycling process and the associated cost analysis revealed important outcomes for the decision-making process of determining which equipment (or materials) will be exported and which will be recycled domestically. It is shown that scrap computers are the only equipment with enough intrinsic value to justify the domestic recycling without requiring any external subsidy. Furthermore, the importance of such subsidy, of regulations and monitoring are discussed, principally for e-waste with an intrinsic value smaller than computers. The results indicate that labor accounts for more than 90% of the cost of first stage recycling in Australia, which can be extrapolated to countries where labor is expensive. Finally, in the interest of achieving a better waste management worldwide, this study provides arguments to encourage a better monitoring of the recycling processes undertaken internationally and/or the promotion of downstream recycling processes in developed countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)846-854
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume209
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • electronic waste
  • recycling
  • recycling cost
  • waste management
  • WEEE management

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