Rapid economic growth in recent years has transformed our lifestyle to massively produce, consume, and dispose of products, especially for consumer electronics. This change has put great threat to our environment and caused natural resource depletion. Moreover, short product life cycles and quick replacements of consumer electronics create enormous electronic wastes (e-wastes). Without proper waste management, immense environmental damage is expected. In this empirical study, we notice that lots of valuable materials that can still be recycled from these used consumer electronics are left unused at home instead of being recycled at the appropriate time, which causes a low collection rate and a decrease in residual value for the used products. Therefore, it is important for the government and the recyclers to handle them efficiently by increasing the used product take-back rate. Our study develops an assessment model for customer value based on the idea of value engineering and the perspective of product life cycle. We also explore the relationship between product value and the total cost of ownership with an evaluation of their time variation, considering different usage modes for various consumer groups and different recycling award schemes (fixed and variable recycling awards). Proper take-back management is likely to create a win-win situation both for consumers and environmental protection. This study regards the notebook computer as an example to determine the optimal time for recycling laptops based on usage patterns and provides consumers a reference for when to replace their used product. The results from our modeling firstly clearly indicate that consumers with higher frequency of usage have shorter take back times and higher maximum consumer value. Secondly, a variable recycling award scheme with higher maximum consumer value is more practical than a fixed recycling award scheme.
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