E-waste Management

We are conducting studies on e-waste management topics including recycling of EV batteries, design of product-service systems, and sustainability outcomes of the Tethered Economy. Below are several example of those studies: 

The current status of the consumer electronics repair industry in the U.S.

Consumer electronics are turning into consumable devices nowadays, and consumers generally show little inclination to repair broken products due to the lack of repair infrastructures and relative high repair costs. On the other hand, technical, operational, and economic barriers impede the growth of repair businesses. In this paper, we provide a look into the repair industry through an analysis of a survey conducted by a third-party repair service provider. 2170 repair technicians have participated in a survey consisting of 23 questions about repair challenges in their profession. At first, we take a look at the economic barriers that dissuade consumers from repairing products. Next, a demand-based repair service pricing framework is introduced. The optimal pricing levels are found based on the consumers’ repair demand. Finally, other aspects of repair businesses, e.g. repairability degree of consumer electronics and consumer expectations of repair services, are thoroughly investigated. As an example of findings, different types of consumer electronics are clustered based on the associated repair difficulties. Moreover, some insights are provided to promote the repair businesses.

Read more about this study here.

Agent Based Simulation Optimization of Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment Recovery

The profitability of Electronic waste recovery operations is quite challenging due to various sources of uncertainties in quantity, quality and timing of returns originating from consumers’ behavior. The cloud-based remanufacturing concept, data collection and information tracking technologies seems a promising solution toward proper collection and recovery of product life cycle data under uncertainty. A comprehensive model that takes every aspect of recovery systems into account will help policy makers perform better decisions over a planning horizon. The objective of this study is to develop an Agent Based Simulation (ABS) framework to model the overall product take-back and recovery system based on the product identity data available through cloud-based remanufacturing infrastructure. 

Read more about this study here

Managing consumer behavior toward on-time return of e-waste

As a common habit, consumers often keep their EOU/L products in storage for an uncertain amount of time. This behavior reduces the chance of remarketing of refurbished products causing less incentive toward remanufacturing operations. There are several factors behind this product-storing behavior including inconvenient access to collection sites, low resale price in second-hand markets, data security concern, insufficient rewards offered in take-back programs, and the lack of awareness on available take-back options. The question then arises as how to motivate consumers to return back their EOU/L products in a timely manner? What is the sufficient amount of incentive that remanufactures should offer consumers to control the return rate? In this study, we have developed a game theoretic model to investigate the elements of product take-back process and find the equilibrium points for buy back price in which both consumers and recovery industry objectives are met. 

Read more about this study here

Consumer's product storing behavior

Consumers often have a tendency to store their used, old or un-functional electronics for a period of time before they discard them and return them back to the waste stream. In this study, we have provided insightful statistical analysis of e-waste dynamic nature by studying the effects of design characteristics, brand and consumer type on the electronics usage time and end of use time-in-storage. A database consisting of 10,063 Hard Disk Drives (HDD) of used personal computers returned back to a remanufacturing facility located in Chicago, IL, USA during 2011 to 2013 has been selected as the base for this study. The results show that commercial consumers have stored computers more than household consumers regardless of brand and size factors. Moreover, a heterogeneous storage behavior is observed for different brands of HDDs regardless of size and consumer type factors. Finally, the storage behavior trends are projected for short-time forecasting and the storage times are precisely predicted by applying machine learning methods. 

Read more about this study here. 

Reusability Assessment of Lithium-Ion Laptop Batteries

In this study, we have used a data set of 500 Lithium-ion laptop batteries with the aim of investigating the potential reusability of laptop batteries. This type of rechargeable batteries is popular due to their energy efficiency and less common technical defects.  We have linked the reusability assessment  to the consumer behavior and degradation process simultaneously through monitoring the performance of batteries over their lifetimes. After capturing the utilization behavior, the performance-based stability time of batteries has been approximately derived. Consequently, the reusability likelihood of batteries  has been quantified using the number of cycles that the battery can be charged with the aim of facilitating future remarketing and recovery opportunities. 

Read more about this study here.