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Special Issue "Challenges in Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Management"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Patrick A. Wäger

Technology and Society Laboratory, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), Lerchenfeldstrasse 5, 9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: critical raw materials, emerging technologies, life cycle thinking, material flow analysis, resource management, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

With the advent of the Information Society and the steadily growing consumption of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) worldwide, society is facing the challenge of dealing with increasing amounts of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in a sustainable, responsible way. WEEE is a particularly complex waste stream that can be a source of valuable resources, but which also bears the potential to cause significant environmental impacts. In different regions of the world, e.g., in Europe, regulations, policies, and collection and recovery systems based on extended producer responsibility (EPR) have been implemented. Nevertheless, many issues remain to be resolved, including illegal trafficking of WEEE, the response of WEEE management systems to ever faster changes in the composition of EEE (due to e.g., miniaturization, embedding of electronics, introduction of nanomaterials and -technologies) or in the recovery of (critical) raw materials that have so far not been considered, such as indium or rare earth elements (REE). For this Special Issue, we invite researchers to submit manuscripts addressing questions related to the sustainability, vulnerability, and resilience of WEEE management systems, in particular: Which requirements do WEEE management systems have to fulfill to be awarded the attribute "sustainable"? What are the factors determining the vulnerability of such systems (e.g., changes in the "feedstock", fluctuations of commodity prices, decreasing demand for secondary products, such as cathode ray tube (CRT) glass, socio-cultural issues)? How vulnerable are existing WEEE management systems against such factors? How can their resilience be improved (e.g., improved product design, better integration of actors along the product and recycling chain, certification of secondary raw materials)?

Patrick A. Wäger
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


Keywords

  • disposal
  • recovery
  • resilience
  • sustainability
  • vulnerability
  • waste management

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle E-Waste Supply Chain in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Management
Sustainability 2017, 9(4), 503; doi:10.3390/su9040503
Received: 22 February 2017 / Revised: 19 March 2017 / Accepted: 22 March 2017 / Published: 27 March 2017
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Abstract
Electronic waste is a widespread environmental problem. From all waste streams, e-waste is registering one of the largest growing rates (between 3% and 5%). In Mexico, the e-waste recovery system comprises a mix of formal and informal sectors not well known to date.
[...] Read more.
Electronic waste is a widespread environmental problem. From all waste streams, e-waste is registering one of the largest growing rates (between 3% and 5%). In Mexico, the e-waste recovery system comprises a mix of formal and informal sectors not well known to date. The goal of this article was to analyze electronic waste in Mexico through the active actors in the recovery chain. This article presents the evolution of studies on electronic waste in Mexico. The legal regulations and public policies were analyzed, as were the existing practices of electronic waste handling, and some challenges facing this country for waste flow management. A management model is proposed which highlights components that must be considered in the model and the opportunities and challenges to transition from an unbundled handling, which still has practices that lack environmental and technical support, to sustainable management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Stochastic Programming Approach with Improved Multi-Criteria Scenario-Based Solution Method for Sustainable Reverse Logistics Design of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1331; doi:10.3390/su8121331
Received: 30 October 2016 / Revised: 9 December 2016 / Accepted: 13 December 2016 / Published: 17 December 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2504 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Today, the increased public concern about sustainable development and more stringent environmental regulations have become important driving forces for value recovery from end-of-life and end-of use products through reverse logistics. Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) contains both valuable components that need to
[...] Read more.
Today, the increased public concern about sustainable development and more stringent environmental regulations have become important driving forces for value recovery from end-of-life and end-of use products through reverse logistics. Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) contains both valuable components that need to be recycled and hazardous substances that have to be properly treated or disposed of, so the design of a reverse logistics system for sustainable treatment of WEEE is of paramount importance. This paper presents a stochastic mixed integer programming model for designing and planning a generic multi-source, multi-echelon, capacitated, and sustainable reverse logistics network for WEEE management under uncertainty. The model takes into account both economic efficiency and environmental impacts in decision-making, and the environmental impacts are evaluated in terms of carbon emissions. A multi-criteria two-stage scenario-based solution method is employed and further developed in this study for generating the optimal solution for the stochastic optimization problem. The proposed model and solution method are validated through a numerical experiment and sensitivity analyses presented later in this paper, and an analysis of the results is also given to provide a deep managerial insight into the application of the proposed stochastic optimization model. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Characterization of Some Real Mixed Plastics from WEEE: A Focus on Chlorine and Bromine Determination by Different Analytical Methods
Sustainability 2016, 8(11), 1107; doi:10.3390/su8111107
Received: 30 June 2016 / Revised: 22 October 2016 / Accepted: 23 October 2016 / Published: 29 October 2016
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Abstract
Bromine and chlorine are almost ubiquitous in waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and the knowledge of their content in the plastic fraction is an essential step for proper end of life management. The aim of this study is to compare the
[...] Read more.
Bromine and chlorine are almost ubiquitous in waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and the knowledge of their content in the plastic fraction is an essential step for proper end of life management. The aim of this study is to compare the following analytical methods: energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (ED-XRF), ion chromatography (IC), ion-selective electrodes (ISEs), and elemental analysis for the quantitative determination of chlorine and bromine in four real samples taken from different WEEE treatment plants, identifying the best analytical technique for waste management workers. Home-made plastic standard materials with known concentrations of chlorine or bromine have been used for calibration of ED-XRF and to test the techniques before the sample analysis. Results showed that IC and ISEs, based upon dissolution of the products of the sample combustion, have not always achieved a quantitative absorption of the analytes in the basic solutions and that bromine could be underestimated since several oxidation states occur after combustion. Elemental analysis designed for chlorine determination is subjected to strong interference from bromine and required frequent regeneration and recalibration of the measurement cell. The most reliable method seemed to be the non-destructive ED-XRF. Calibration with home-made standards, having a similar plastic matrix of the samples, enabled us to carry out quantitative determinations, which have been revealed to be satisfactorily accurate and precise. In all the analyzed samples a total concentration of chlorine and/or bromine between 0.6 and 4 w/w% was detected, compromising the feasibility of a mechanical recycling and suggesting the exploration of an alternative route for managing these plastic wastes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Analytic Hierarchy Process-Based Analysis to Determine the Barriers to Implementing a Material Efficiency Strategy: Electrical and Electronics’ Companies in the Malaysian Context
Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 1035; doi:10.3390/su8101035
Received: 15 May 2016 / Revised: 3 October 2016 / Accepted: 4 October 2016 / Published: 15 October 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (633 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Material efficiency is one of the most important strategies for helping manufacturing companies achieve sustainability in their production activities. However, there are many barriers to the implementation of material efficiency strategies in the manufacturing processes and overall business operations. The aim of this
[...] Read more.
Material efficiency is one of the most important strategies for helping manufacturing companies achieve sustainability in their production activities. However, there are many barriers to the implementation of material efficiency strategies in the manufacturing processes and overall business operations. The aim of this study is to identify and evaluate the barriers faced by Electrical and Electronics (E&E) manufacturing companies in Malaysia in implementing material efficiency strategies. A mixed-mode research method was employed to collect data from these companies. Semi-structured interviews were used to identify the barriers faced by the Malaysian Electrical and Electronics (E&E) industry, while an Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) survey was utilized to determine the importance of each barrier. Seven companies participated in the semi-structured interviews, and 18 companies took part in the AHP survey. Nine barriers were generated from analysis of the interviews, and were then ranked by priority using the AHP method. These important findings could be used as a guide for E&E companies in managing or overcoming barriers during the implementation of material efficiency strategies and other sustainable manufacturing activities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Challenges in Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management: A Profitability Assessment in Three European Countries
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 633; doi:10.3390/su8070633
Received: 16 April 2016 / Revised: 16 June 2016 / Accepted: 29 June 2016 / Published: 5 July 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1079 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is known as an important source of secondary raw materials. Since decades, its treatment allowed to recover great amounts of basic resources. However, the management of electronic components embedded in WEEE still presents many challenges. The purpose
[...] Read more.
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is known as an important source of secondary raw materials. Since decades, its treatment allowed to recover great amounts of basic resources. However, the management of electronic components embedded in WEEE still presents many challenges. The purpose of the paper is to cope with some of these challenges through the definition of an economic model able to identify the presence of profitability within the recovery process of waste printed circuit boards (WPCBs). To this aim, a set of common economic indexes is used within the paper. Furthermore, a sensitivity analysis on a set of critical variables is conducted to evaluate their impact on the results. Finally, the combination of predicted WEEE volumes (collected during the 2015–2030 period) in three European countries (Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom) and related economic indexes quantify the potential advantage coming from the recovery of this kind of waste in the next future. Full article
Open AccessArticle Towards an Assessment Methodology to Support Decision Making for Sustainable Electronic Waste Management Systems: Automatic Sorting Technology
Sustainability 2016, 8(1), 84; doi:10.3390/su8010084
Received: 31 October 2015 / Revised: 8 December 2015 / Accepted: 21 December 2015 / Published: 15 January 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2285 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is a lack of structured methodologies to support stakeholders in accessing the sustainability aspects for e-waste management. Moreover, the increasing volume of electronic waste (e-waste) and the availability of automated e-waste treatment solutions demand frequent reconfigurations of facilities for efficient e-waste management.
[...] Read more.
There is a lack of structured methodologies to support stakeholders in accessing the sustainability aspects for e-waste management. Moreover, the increasing volume of electronic waste (e-waste) and the availability of automated e-waste treatment solutions demand frequent reconfigurations of facilities for efficient e-waste management. To fill this gap and guide such ongoing developments, this paper proposes a novel methodological framework to enable the assessing, visualizing and comparing of sustainability impacts (economic, environmental and social) resulting from changes applied to a facility for e-waste treatment. The methodology encompasses several methods, such as discrete event simulation, life cycle assessment and stakeholder mapping. A newly-developed demonstrator for sorting e-waste is presented to illustrate the application of the framework. Not only did the methodology generate useful information for decision making, but it has also helped identify requirements for further assessing the broader impacts on the social landscape in which e-waste management systems operate. These results differ from those of previous studies, which have lacked a holistic approach to addressing sustainability. Such an approach is important to truly measure the efficacy of sustainable e-waste management. Potential future applications of the framework are envisioned in production systems handling other waste streams, besides electronics. Full article
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