Single product, multi-lifetime components: challenges for Product-Service System development
2015-05-12T15:31:33Z (GMT) by
The rapid turnover in consumer electronics, fuelled by increased global consumption, has resulted in negative environmental and social consequences. Consumer electronics are typically disposed of into UK landfills; exported to developing countries; incinerated; retained in households in a redundant state; or otherwise 'lost' with very few being recycled. As a result, the high value metals they contain are not effectively recovered and new raw materials must be extracted to produce more goods. To assist in a transition from the current throw-away society towards a circular economy, the Closed Loop Emotionally Valuable E-waste Recovery (CLEVER) project is developing a novel Product-Service System (PSS). In the proposed PSS, component parts with 'low-emotional value', but requiring regular technical upgrade (such as circuit boards, chips and other electronic components) will be owned by manufacturers and leased to customers, and potentially ‘high-emotional value’ components (such as the outer casing) will be owned and valued by the customer so that they become products that are kept for longer periods of time. This research conceptualizes a consumer electronic device as comprising a 'skin' - the outer casing, or the part that the user interacts with directly; a 'skeleton' - the critical support components inside the device; and 'organs' - the high-tech electronics that deliver the product’s core functionality. Each of these has different longevity requirements and value-chain lifetimes, engendering different levels of stakeholder interaction. This paper contributes to academic debate by exploring the feasibility of creating a PSS which addresses conflicting issues for different components within the same device with different optimal lifetimes and end-of-life fates.