A new US-based report could help consumer electronics firms to build products which can be taken out of service in a more environmentally friendly way at the end of their lives.
The Closing the Loop report was undertaken by the Green Electronics Council, the National Center for Electronics Recycling and E-Scrap News, with funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
End-of-life managers across the consumer electronics spectrum were interviewed, including recyclers, for-profit and non-profit reuse operators, asset recovery businesses, resellers and plastics reclaimers, asking what needed to be done to the design of products to "enhance the value at end-of-life".
The product design recommendations included using more standardised product ID codes, bar codes and RFID technology, which would allow managers to "quickly identify key information about products".
The report also urged manufacturers to use a consistent and limited set of screws and fasteners to ease disassembly, refurbishment or "demanufacturing into subassemblies".
The industry should also "design for longer life span of components through more durable and interchangeable parts and other strategies", and standardise power supplies, the report said.
The study identified "depollution" as the highest priority product design area. It recommended external marking and colour coding of all components to identify hazardous materials, and designing these components to be easy to pull out.
It also pointed to the importance of eliminating intentionally added mercury in items like light sources.
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