6.2.4 Recyclability assessment

In order to determine the recyclability of a material we may use a several - step approach, such as the one described by Oyasato and Kobayashi1 in Figure 1:

Figure 1: A procedure for recyclability evaluation

In detail the steps are as follows:

1. Enter data for the products, such as

  • Who owns the product?
  • What kind of ownership is involved?
  • What is the price?
  • How big is the product?
  • What is the average life of the product?
  • What is the weight of the product? etc.

2. Set the basic conditions, relevant for recyclability evaluation

  • disassembly level – materials are being arranged in a scale list, according to the possibility of disassembling, the time needed, what is left aside etc.2
  • transportation
  • processing costs

3. Analysis of recyclability

  • defining the purity of the recycled product
  • defining the applicable recycling methods3
  • setting up rating methods, based on recyclability rating and material separability rating4

E.g. to determine the recyclability rating a special table may be used (Table 1), where a scale of marks from 0 to 5 is fixed, where 0 is given to products which  are difficult to recycle and 5 is given to items which can easily be recycled. 

Table 1: Material recyclability evaluation

The recycling guidelines5 can be used for material separation rating too.
During the dismantling process various indicators are used, such as:

  • the name of element,
  • number of repetitions
  • sort of material/component,
  • time required for separation,
  • the mass of element
  • the recyclability of particular element

4. Future improvements

The company’s recycling strategy, when designing a new product has to account for the following issues:

  • Design for recycling can negatively affect performance and cost, e.g. required material substitution is not always possible or will cost more.
  • The trade-offs between design for disassembly and design for assembly are often cited, studied and questioned.
  • During product’s design and specification of components for assembly certain improvements will be needed for the sake of the recycling  process.

  1. Think about how to apply a recycling scheme in your company, following the guidelines given, e.g. to make a classification of your wastes.
  2. Look around in the company and define how to improve the recyclability rating in the company, by offering appropriate measures.

1 Oyasato N., Kobayahi H.: Recyclability evaluation method considering material combination and degradation
2 InnoSupport: Supporting Innovations in SME. 6.4 Recycling strategies, 2005
3 Eik, Arne: Indicators for Eco-efficiency in Recycling Systems
4 Pintaric A., Filetin T.: Assessment of recyclability for electrical equipment
5 Georgia Institute of Technology Systems Realization Laboratory: Recycling Guidelines