6.2.3 Where can recycling be applied?

Recycling has a variety of applications, including during the design and production of a new products.
When a company is starting a recycling program it should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is our waste stream or what will it be when the new product is manufactured?
  • Can we apply waste minimization techniques?
  • Where and who will collect the scrap?
  • What technology shall we use to recycle our production scrap?
  • Will this process be economically effective?
  • Shall we be able to keep to conventions and regulations? etc.

In order to answer all these questions the company has to take appropriate managing decisions, especially when it refers to new products/services.

Please stop and think, then make a cross check list regarding:

  • What is the situation in your company, regarding the waste stream from products?
  • What level of recycling technology is used?
  • Do managers implement energy saving measures?
  • Is your production giving-off harmful emissions?

Formation of a recycling strategy in the company

During the innovation process the company needs a clear policy on how to deal with the complex problems of recycling and reuse.
New diverse recycling technologies are emerging; new rules and regulations are coming into force, so managers have to follow a specific scheme in order to implement recycling actions in the company.
In order to assess the application of the recycling strategy the company should take into consideration information such as:

  • design information (process flow; material and heat balance; production processes; operating manuals; equipment specification etc.)
  • environmental information (hazardous wastes; emission inventories; waste analyses; environmental audit reports; permits etc.)
  • raw materials information (product composition; materials application etc.)
  • economic information (waste treatment and disposal costs; products, utility and raw material costs; operating and maintenance costs)
  • other information (company environmental policy; standard procedures; organization charts etc.)

In short the company needs a strategy on how to proceed.

Content of a recycling strategy

Your strategy should include the following steps1:

  • Draw up a profile of the product’s current end-of-life system
  • Analyze the main reasons why users dispose of the product
  • Determine what legislation and regulations affect the end-of-life system
  • Contact the suppliers
  • Establish how the product can be collected (possible ways)
  • Determine who is going to recycle or process the product
  • Select the most efficient end-of-life system

1 InnoSupport: Supporting Innovations in SME. 6.4 Recycling strategies, 2005