Screening of Metals in Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Using Simple Assessment Methods
Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 64-84, 2007
Posted: 13 Dec 2007
Various toxic, useful, and/or scarce metals in waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE) have rarely been assessed due to low data availability, except for the four metals regulated by the European Union's Directive on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). This article describes the results of screening 36 metals in WEEE using simple assessment methods for cases where the decision makers do not know for which substances in a product countermeasures should be taken and where data cannot be easily obtained. First, this study examines the decision-making process and prerequisites for screening, classifies existing assessment methods, and presents three simple indices for screening (resource consumption, water pollution affecting human health, and aquatic biota conservation) so that screening can be readily started for many (20-36) metals. Following this, a case study is conducted for waste TV sets, revealing which metal in which product module or component should be targeted by environmental countermeasures. Finally, the screening results are compared with those of six other methods using diagrams devised to indicate the superiority of screening methods, and several screening techniques are discussed. The conclusions are that the EU RoHS Directive does not necessarily cover all of the toxic metals that could be of concern and the screening methods presented could help identify such metals; the selection of methods is critical; and a more detailed method does not necessarily provide more accurate results.
Keywords: environmental indicator, environmental management, industrial ecology, metals, simplified environmental assessment, waste electrical and electronic equipment
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