Is Legislation Enforcing Materials Recovery, Remanufacturing, and Industrial Ecology in the Electronics Industry Sustainable?
This study examines issues related to the challenges faced by the electronics industry with concurrent industrial ecology and waste disposal legislation. Industrial ecology practices encourage industrial systems to mimic ecosystems by having all discarded, returned, or otherwise spent products from manufacturing processes become the raw material inputs of subsequent manufacturing processes. Forthcoming legislation in Europe, Asia, and North America will provide a driver for industrial ecology, materials recovery, and remanufacturing practices throughout the global electronics industry. At the same time, recently enacted legislation has banned the landfilling and incineration of durable electronic product waste. The goal of these new disposal regulations is to prevent a significant source of hazardous waste from entering the eco-system. However, regulations for reclamation, remanufacturing and reprocessing can become misplaced when the targeted practitioners of these directives can neither legally re-use the resultant reclaimed materials nor legally store or dispose of the ensuing wastes. The open question that must be reconciled concerns the sustainability of legislation efforts aimed at enforcing industrial ecology when this legislation is simultaneously combined with concurrent regulations banning all legal means of disposal for the resulting wastes.
Keywords: Industrial Ecology, Durable Electronic Goods, Hazardous waste storage
Dr. Julian Scott Yeomans
Professor, Operations Management & Information Systems Area, York University