for Electronic
Product Design

Abstracts From Conference Proceedings

Title: Environmental Issues in Designing Electronic and Electrical Products
Conference Organised by: The Centre For Sustainable Design
Venue: The Royal Horticultural Halls, London, UK.
Date: 1st November 1995


The Policy Framework

Douglas Robinson, DTI

Firstly, the paper outlines the Government policy framework for the management of waste, launched in January 1995 (postscript: updated December 1995), which aims to move up the waste disposal hierarchy from disposal to other options such as re-use and recovery. Secondly, it reviews the landfill tax to be introduced in 1996, which will support movements towards options such as incineration with energy recovery and materials recycling. Thirdly, it underlines that Producer Responsibility (PR) is becoming an increasingly important concept. PR involves makers of products in taking more responsibility for their disposal or recovery after they are sold to the consumer, rather than absolving themselves of responsibility at the time of sale. In July 1993, a voluntary initiative was started by Government covering various sectors including electronic and electrical products. PR is now embedded into The Environment Act 1995, launched in July this year. Fourthly, the paper highlights that within the European Union, electronic and electrical products are now a Priority Waste Stream and a working party has been established to monitor developments. The paper emphasises that there are various opportunities and threats for companies involved in the manufacture, dismantling and recovery of electronic and electrical products, with the overall trend being towards source reduction.


Environmental legislation in the electronics sector

Andrew Waite, Planning and Environment Group, Berwin Keighton, Solicitors.

With electrical and electronic equipment being designated as a Priority Waste Stream in the European Union, a greater focus on the environmental issues in this sector has emerged. The principal legal factors affecting the design of electronic equipment are associated with the 'End Of Life' (EOL) stage in its use. This paper focusses on the example of batteries and explores the implication of the UK National Waste Strategy, Producer Responsibility, the Duty of Care, Special Wastes, Transfrontier Shipment of Hazardous Waste, and Contaminated Land.


The corporate response

Cheryl Rogers, University of Portsmouth

This paper examines the challenge of EOL product management currently facing the electronics sector, and focusses on 'the corporate response' to this challenge. This analysis leads to the notion that the overriding concern is perhaps less to do with a response by industry and more to do with the dilemma in which it finds itself. This is not to negate the tremendous moves being made by individual organisations to accomodate and promote EOL management but rather to examine the implications of what has happened to date for the sector as a whole.

The paper goes on to explore the way in which representative industry bodies have begun to diverge in their approach to developing solutions, and progresses to an innovative view of the economics of recycling. There is no attempt to provide a quantitative justification of this; the paper simply shows the significance of an alternative view of the recycling and re-use of EOL electronic products. Given an understanding of the position in which industry currently finds itself, and a view of one way in which EOL management might progress, the paper offers a future scenario and suggests what might need to be achieved in order for industry to proceed.


Eco-efficiciency in electronic equipment

Dr Ing Jonathan Williams, Group for Environmental Manufacturing (GEM)

The paper examines the emerging concept of eco-efficiency -- adding value and minimising resource use -- in the context of the electronics industry. It also introduces the Regional Eco-efficiency Demonstrator Initiative (REDI) a multi-stakeholder project focussing on implementing eco-efficiency in the electronics sector through building awareness, benchmarking, the development of new product/service concepts, and information dissemination. REDI aims to generate a series of benefits including maximising value added, minimising liability, strengthening customer/supplier relationships, higher value-extraction, reducing load on disposal facilities, and the demonstration of both eco-efficiency and private/public sector partnerships.


Closing the loop

R D Mann, Mann Organisation

The paper explores the concept of the 'Integrated Recycling System', where all recycling processes needed to enable the product, its parts, and its materials must be structured within a single production facility. In addition, each facility must be financially self-sufficient, with all operating procedures and processes -- both product re-use and materials recycling -- consistent, enabling 'Total Asset Management'.

The paper further explores the issues surrounding EOL management, the material value hierarchy. process development, product re-use, barriers to successful recycling, a 'take-back' collection trial project, the practicalities of life-cycle costs, the role of industry, and market education. It also introduces EMERGE (Electronic Manufacturers Equipment Recycling Group) -- a user-group of 20 multinational electrical and electronic manufacturers formed around the common use of the Mann Organisation's recycling processes.


Environmentally Conscious Products

Steve Bushnell, IBM UK

The paper examines the Environmentally Conscious Products (ECP) programme developed at IBM -- which aims to encourage the development of environmental attributes across the entire product range from personal computers to mainframes. Since 1992 IBM has been designing-in features to make products easier to manage at 'End of Life' (EOL), but it still has to deal with EOL issues for products designed up to twenty years ago, when environmental attributes were somewhat different. The key drivers are explored, coupled with IBM's response including its own priority goals and achievements. In the future it sees external pressures intensifying, the harmonisation of international requirements, the need for better customer and market education, and the continuing drive for innovation within the ECP programme.


Workshop papers

Workshop 1: A prototype Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) tool for electronics companies
Workshop 2: Environmental issues in the electronics industry
Workshop 3: Research into eco-issues and product design
Workshop 4: Managing eco-design / DfE


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