P3 Design of a National Electronics Product Reuse and Recycling System

EPA Grant Number: SU831815
Title: P3 Design of a National Electronics Product Reuse and Recycling System
Investigators: Caudill, Reggie J. , Cohen, Maurie , Tricamo, Stephen
Current Investigators: Caudill, Reggie J. , Albayeros, Fernando , Bernal, Marelis , Blackboume, Yvette , Cohen, Maurie , Davis, William , Hernandez, Jennifer , Ortiz, Javier , Tricamo, Stephen
Institution: New Jersey Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 15, 2004 through September 14, 2005
Project Amount: $9,900
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Material and resource conservation are critical to sustainability; and, the ability to efficiently and effectively recover old products for reuse and recycle is an essential element in these conservation efforts. In California alone, it has been estimated that 10,000 computers and televisions become obsolete every day; and, with over 50 million more of these products sold annually, the problem is rapidly growing.

The P3 project proposed here will focus on the design of a comprehensive national system to collect, transport, and process household electronics while balancing cost, efficiency, and convenience and leveraging existing infrastructure and manufacturing capacity. These system characteristics will be used as design criteria to evaluate alternatives and measure results. The design problem is multidisciplinary in scope involving tools and techniques from systems analysis and simulation, operations research, environmental science, transportation planning, economic analysis, forecasting techniques and policy analysis. The student design team will consist of industrial engineering and environmental policy undergraduate students working jointly with transportation, environmental science, and engineering management graduate students. The project will be embedded within the industrial engineering senior capstone design course and the honor's section of the university's society, technology and environment course, and guided by an external advisory and resource panel.

Societal concerns are inherently coupled to e-waste in myriad of ways, including export issues, new product innovation, and land use. Economic considerations go well beyond costs and benefits. The electronics industry is a major sector of the economy; consequently, care must be taken not to jeopardize, but to enhance, the vitality and viability of this important industry. In addition, electronics reuse and recycling directly impacts the environment by keeping materials from entering the waste stream while reducing the need for virgin materials. People, prosperity, and the planet are all fundamentally linked to the project.

The implementation strategy for this project may take two pathways. The first is towards the full implementation of a national system in collaboration with on-going national electronics product stewardship initiative. The other strategy is to work with EPA's Plug-in to eCycling Program to make the design tools and databases developed during this project available to communities and states as they prepare to build their won electronics recycling system.

Supplemental Keywords:

pollution prevention, recycling, electronics, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, Ecology, cleaner production/pollution prevention, resource management, pollution prevention design tool, computers and electronics, household electronics, recycling, electronics industry, reuse, pollution prevention

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report