Design for Reuse: Where Environmental Regulations and Business Strategies Meet


Cell phones are being classified as hazardous waste materials along with the previously categorized electronics products such as computers and televisions. The faster new superior (electronic) products are created, the faster existing ones become obsolete. The United States (US) electronics industry has approached the waste issue by: repairing electronic products, reclaiming high value elements, limiting the number of different materials in a product, labeling of plastic molded parts, using recycled content rather than newly synthesized materials, reducing or eliminating specific toxic chemicals such as bromine or lead, creating collection programs with municipalities, and exporting waste to developing Asian countries. The European Union (EU) has taken a strong stand on the electronic waste through directives and treaties. This paper proposes that products be designed from the outset so that, after their intended initial useful lives, products or products' components can provide nourishment for something new and not become obsolete. The components can be conceived as "technical nutrients" that will continually circulate as vital and valuable materials within closed-loop industrial cycles, rather than being considered only for reclaiming, recycling or downcycling into separate or low-grade materials and uses. The proposal offered provides a path to take a potential threat and turn it into a new business growth opportunity.

Meeting Name

Global Plastics Environmental Conference 2004 - Plastics: Helping Grow a Greener Environment, GPEC 2004 (2004: Feb. 18-19, Detroit, MI)



Keywords and Phrases

Cost effectiveness; Environmental impact; Marketing; Materials science; Raw materials; Strategic planning; Wastes, European union (EU); Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS); United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP); Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), Reusability

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2004 Society of Plastics Engineers, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2004

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