The Circular Economy is gaining recognition for its attention to increasing material circularity by proposing a set of value retention options, and organizing business, institutions, and policies for their implementation. Light emitting diode (LED) lamp recycling is becoming increasingly important due to their growing market share and precious metal content. Instead of the current shredding approach, this study applied higher value retention options, such as testing for the functionality of the bulb at the product level, manual disassembly to reuse parts at the component level, and automatic disassembly for industrial scale reuse. This study finds that the effort that is needed to implement higher value retention options (such as reuse) requires a new form of secondary business, wider networks of recycling chains, and favorable policies. It also shows that about 50% of the lamp waste stream is still functioning and economically attractive if they are remarketed. However, the demand-pull market conditions seem to be missing. For manual disassembly, the output fractions are cleaner, but it is not economically feasible due to high labor cost. On the other hand, automatic disassembly does not produce cleaner fractions due to wide design variability. Thus, this study suggests that shifting from shredding-focused-resource recovery to reuse-based-resource circularity requires a comprehensive framework that simultaneously encourages secondary market formation, collaboration between manufacturers, recyclers and companies, and the formulation of favorable reuse policies. This study applies insights from circular economy principles to LED lamp recycling, and it also contributes to the latter by identifying challenges and possible solutions.
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