3:30 PM - ES14.01.02/ES13.05.02
Validation of Ostrom Principles to Support the Circular Economy in Used Electronics
Carol Handwerker1,Mark Schaffer1,William Olson1
Metals recovery from electronic product recycling is currently focused on high-volume metals that are easily recoverable and on low-volume, high-value precious metals. Current and future electronics will increasingly contain small quantities of materials which are not currently recovered in today’s recycling infrastructure. Trends toward miniaturization, product dematerialization, and increasing materials heterogeneity create increasing challenges with respect to materials recovery, and the financial viability of electronics recycling generally.
In particular, the project examined whether conditions exist in the electronics and recycling industries to develop a voluntary, community-based solution involving adaptive governance systems to self-manage used electronics as common pool resources. This concept was inspired by the work of Dr. Eleanor Ostrom (2009 Nobel Laureate in Economics). It was concluded that the necessary conditions do exist, and that the time was right to take the next steps.
Therefore, iNEMI (the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative) undertook a collaborative project to examine the role its members could play in increasing materials recovery, while promoting sustainable electronics. The main take-home message from the project was that the situation is bad and getting worse if we consider materials recovery as the only option for end-of-use (EoU) electronics. As a result of that project, a new iNEMI project was then launched to focus on value recovery from hard disk drives (HDDs), including multiple existing and possible future dimensions of an EoU system that could improve its effectiveness, financial viability, and sustainability. The dimensions examined ranged from reuse and remanufacturing of HDDS to reuse of components, transformation of components for use in other applications, and recycling of critical materials as well as commodity materials being lost under the existing recycling paradigm.
The project aims to study and implement a proof of concept of the necessary conditions and issues involved to develop a voluntary, community-based solution involving adaptive governance systems to self-manage common pool resources. Though the focus is on the reuse and recovery of spinning media (Hard Disk Drives) and rare earth magnets, the principles can be applied to any used electronic product.
Identifying Criteria for Enabling Reuse of used, functioning HDDs and of components from used, non-functioning HDDs
Identifying Criteria for Enabling Reuse of HDD components in HDD applications – both direct and indirect for metal components, disks, magnetics, motors, head, PWBs etc.
Identifying Criteria for Enabling Reuse of magnets in non-HDD applications
Developing economic and logistics estimates for cases studies
Establishing necessary Design principles for the system for value recovery
Conducting a Demonstration project on HDD recovery to validate the principles identified
Benchmarking the current reuse and recovery (direct, indirect) and barriers with stakeholder input
Identifying the Leverage Points, mapping the supply chain, and identifying key gaps for developing a circular economy including each value recovery pathway for HDDs